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Causes and Prevention of Tooth Sensitivity


Tooth sensitivity is a condition in which your teeth hurt when you brush your teeth or when you eat or drink something cold. There are many causes of tooth sensitivity. Some people experience this more than others and it is a condition that should not be ignored. You need to inform your Langley dentist about this, especially if you experience it frequently. 

What is Tooth Sensitivity?

You experience tooth sensitivity when your tooth enamel is damaged or due to periodontal issues and the exposure of dentin at the roots of your teeth. Tooth sensitivity is closely related to exposed dentin which is much softer than your teeth’s protective layer of enamel. Dentin is made up of tiny tubes that go into the pulp of your tooth (nerves). Consequently, when your dentin is exposed to the air, hot or cold food/drinks, acidic drinks, or is infected, you will feel pain.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity and How to Prevent It

There are a number of factors that can cause tooth sensitivity. Some are related to the depletion or damage of enamel but there are also additional causes that make your teeth experience sensations of discomfort and pain. 

We’d like to discuss some of the most common ones and what you can do to prevent them.

Unstable pH and Poor Oral Health

If you have low-grade tooth sensitivity, it can be the result of depleting tooth enamel which increases your teeth’s level of sensitivity. To lessen the symptoms, you’ll want to increase your oral health by making sure your diet is plentiful in antioxidants

You can also ensure that your pH is stable by avoiding foods with high acidity or alkaline content. This means that you should decrease the consumption of acidic and/or sugary foods and beverages (e.g. soft drinks, coffee, tomato sauce, candy, refined carbohydrates, and citrus fruits). These foods and drinks can destroy your teeth’s enamel and expose the dentin.

You should also avoid prolonged use of acidic mouthwashes. These usually contain alcohol or other chemicals that can harm your enamel and increase tooth sensitivity. It may be better for you to ask your dentist or dental hygienist to recommend a neutral fluoride mouthwash that does not harm enamel.

Too Much Fluoride

As most of us know, fluoride is important in protecting our teeth. It is found in the majority of toothpaste brands, in water, in foods, and even in milk. However, excessive levels of fluoride levels can cause health issues such as fluorosis. Dental fluorosis can cause discoloration of the teeth, low mineralization which can result “in extreme sensitivity to cold or sweet stimuli and tooth brushing.” You should ask your dentist about how to reduce your fluoride intake and you can switch to a toothpaste that doesn’t have a high content of fluoride.

Improper Use of Teeth Whitening Products

Over-the-counter teeth-whitening products are a common cause of tooth sensitivity. That’s because they tend to contain chemicals that can destroy your tooth enamel if you don’t know how to use them properly. Also, since these products do not produce immediate results like that of professional teeth-whitening treatments, people may use them for prolonged lengths of time and damage their teeth.

If you want brighter and whiter teeth then you should consult with your dentist about safe and effective teeth-whitening treatments that won’t harm your tooth enamel.

Teeth Grinding

If you know or suspect that you grind or clench your teeth at night or during the day, you should be aware that this can eventually wear down your tooth enamel. And as we have mentioned, this will expose the dentin in your teeth. To avoid issues resulting from teeth grinding, you need to consult with your family dentist about using a mouth guard at night in order to protect your teeth.

Improper Brushing Techniques

One of the most common mistakes we advise our Langley dental patients about is improper brushing techniques. Many people believe that by using hard-bristled toothbrushes and brushing aggressively, they can clean their teeth more effectively. This is a great misconception since some toothbrushes can be excessively hard-bristles and if you brush aggressively, you can wear down your tooth enamel and even damage your gums. As a result, you may expose the roots of your teeth and experience tooth sensitivity.

Gum Disease and Thin Gums

Gingivitis and periodontal disease can cause gum inflammation and/or gum recession. In both cases, the roots of your teeth can be exposed which may result in tooth sensitivity. There are also people with naturally thin gum tissue which also means that they will be more prone to tooth sensitivity than others. 

In cases where your gums are involved, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a qualified periodontist who will suggest the best treatment option for your situation. In the meant time, you could use desensitizing toothpaste to decrease the sensitivity of your teeth.

Damaged or Decaying Teeth

If you have a damaged/chipped/broken or decaying tooth, bacteria can reach your tooth’s dentin and cause sensitivity or pain. That’s why it’s important to visit your dentist at least twice a year for your dental check-up and schedule an appointment the moment you experience any pain or damage your teeth.

Contact Langley Dental to Book Your Dental Exam

Fortunately, most dental sensitivity isn’t a serious health concern. If you have the condition, you can make some simple changes to your diet and oral hygiene that may help you feel better. If you notice that your teeth are getting more sensitive over time, try decreasing your sugar intake and increasing your fluoride intake. Also, make sure your oral hygiene routine is staying clean and that you’re not exposing your teeth to harmful bacteria. If you follow these steps, you should be able to reduce your dental sensitivity significantly. However, if you notice that your dental sensitivity is getting worse, you may want to talk to your dentist and schedule a dental exam.

If you have any questions regarding tooth sensitivity in Langley and Surrey, BC, call us at 604-455-6247 or contact us online. Remember, routine teeth cleaning every six months can help you enjoy the benefits of a healthy mouth. At Langley Dental Centre, your comfort and satisfaction are important and we are always happy to answer any questions. 

We believe in a patient-centric approach and keep our patients informed about every aspect of their potential treatments in order to help them make the best decisions. We always aim to make every visit as pleasant as possible and, as a family practice, your convenience is always one of our priorities because we understand how precious your time can be.



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