Tooth sensitivity affects an estimated 40 million people in the United States alone . Tooth sensitivity almost always boils down to tooth enamel damage, in which tooth enamel is either injured or worn away over time.
When tooth enamel is gone, it exposes dentin, the softer layer underneath. Dentin has small, tube-like structures that carry the temperatures from what we eat or drink directly to the nerves at the center of the tooth, which results in sensitivity.
Enamel is designed to protect your teeth, but when your tooth or tooth enamel has been damaged, sensitivity can be one of the first signs that something’s wrong. Here are the top causes of tooth sensitivity!
Aggressive Tooth Brushing
Brushing your teeth too hard can damage your tooth enamel over time, leading to tooth sensitivity. If you’re brushing your teeth with a stiff-bristled toothbrush, it’s time to switch to something softer—the American Dental Association recommends using a toothbrush with soft bristles . You should also replace your toothbrush as soon as the bristles start fraying to prevent damage to your gums!
Teeth Grinding (or Bruxism)
Many people grind their teeth at night and don’t realize it. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, usually happens when you’re not aware of it. However, your dentist can usually tell if you’re grinding your teeth. Bruxism can put immense stress on your pearly whites, leading to cracked or broken teeth and even gum recession, all of which can cause tooth sensitivity .
A Diet Lacking in Nutrients
Your tooth enamel needs nutrients to stay strong and healthy. Eating a diet with enough calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and vitamin C can support healthy teeth and gums. However, if you eat a diet with a lot of acidic or sugary foods and drinks, it can create an acidic environment in your oral cavity, which can cause tooth enamel to become damaged over time .
Your gums help support your teeth, but they also protect your tooth roots from exposure. When you have gum disease, the gum tissue can begin to pull back from the teeth, which can cause tooth roots to become exposed . This exposure can cause painful sensitivity to hot and cold drinks and even cold air if the tooth is located in the front of the mouth!
Damage to the Teeth
Many kinds of damage to the teeth can lead to tooth sensitivity. For example, if you have a cavity, a broken or chipped tooth, or even a dental restoration that needs to be replaced, you may experience tooth sensitivity . This is because these oral health problems can cause damage to your tooth enamel.
Are Your Teeth Sensitive?
If you have sensitive teeth, your dentist can help you determine the cause and put a treatment plan in place. You don’t have to live with the pain or discomfort of tooth sensitivity—schedule an appointment with your dentist today to start enjoying the foods you love again!