Have you ever taken a bite of an ice cream cone on a hot summer day and winced in pain? Or sipped a cup of steaming hot coffee only to feel an uncomfortable jolt shoot through your teeth? If so, you’re far from alone. Studies show that about 1 in 8 adults suffer from sensitive teeth.

5 Things That Cause Tooth Sensitivity

There are several reasons your teeth might be sensitive. Here are a few of the most common causes—and what you can do to find relief.

Cause #1: You’re Brushing Too Hard

If you’re pushing too hard when you brush your teeth, you could be damaging your tooth enamel, the hard outer layer that protects your teeth from decay. When your enamel is damaged, it exposes the underlying dentin, which is full of small tubes that lead to the nerves in your teeth. That’s why brushing too hard can cause sensitivity.

To avoid damaging your tooth enamel, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle circular motions when brushing. And don’t forget to floss! Plaque can build up in areas your toothbrush can’t reach, causing irritation and sensitivity.

Cause #2: You Have Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection of the tissue and bone that supports your teeth. If you have gum disease, your gums may recede or pull away from your teeth, exposing more of the root surface. And since the roots of your teeth don’t have enamel, they’re more susceptible to sensitivity. Other symptoms of gum disease include bleeding gums and bad breath. 

If you think you might have gum disease, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. They will determine whether you have gum disease and develop a treatment plan accordingly. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. So it’s important to get it checked out as soon as possible.  

Cause #3: You’re Eating Foods With High Acid Levels

Acidic food and drink can also damage your tooth enamel and cause sensitivity. Sodas, energy drinks, citrus fruits, and vinegar are all acidic foods and beverages that can contribute to sensitive teeth. Coffee and tea are also culprits—but we know it’s tough to give them up! If you just can’t kick your caffeine habit, try using milk or cream instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners, which can worsen sensitivity. Wait 30 minutes after eating or drinking before brushing, so you don’t further damage weak enamel.

Cause #4: Worn-out dental work

If you have fillings or crowns that are starting to wear down, this can also lead to sensitivity as the underlying tooth structure becomes exposed. 

Cause #5: Teeth grinding

This habit can also damage your enamel and lead to sensitivity. If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about getting a custom mouthguard made.

Treating Sensitive Teeth 

The good news is that there are several things you can do to treat sensitive teeth and help lessen the pain. These include: 

  • Use desensitizing toothpaste. There are special kinds of toothpaste on the market that contain compounds like potassium nitrate, which help block pain receptors in your teeth, so you don’t feel as much discomfort when eating or drinking hot or cold items. 
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks. Food and drink with a high acid content can actually erode tooth enamel, which can lead to increased sensitivity. So cut back on acidic beverages like soda, coffee, and alcohol, and acidic fruits like citrus fruits and tomatoes. 

See your dentist: If home remedies aren’t helping, it’s time to see your dentist. He or she may recommend a deeper cleaning, special fluoride treatments, or bonding material that can help protect exposed roots.

See The Experts at AZ Max

If you’re dealing with sensitive teeth, the team at AZ Max can help. We offer a full range of dental services designed to keep your smile healthy and looking its best. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call (480) 830-5866 or complete the online booking form.