North River Dental Care

Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?

Brunette woman cringes in pain and touches her cheek due to tooth sensitivity

Do your teeth feel sensitive when you sip a hot coffee or when you have a bite of ice cream? If so, you could be suffering from tooth sensitivity. But what does that mean and is tooth sensitivity a sign of something worse?

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

First, let’s discuss what tooth sensitivity is. Tooth sensitivity is a painful sensation that occurs when you consume certain foods or drinks (like those that are very hot or very cold) because your tooth’s dentin or cementum is exposed. Dentin is the layer underneath your tooth’s enamel, the hard shell that covers and protects your teeth, and cementum is the material that protects the roots of your teeth. Dentin is made up of tiny fluid-filled canals that are connected to nerve endings from the inner pulp, which is a soft bundle of nerves and blood vessels at the center of your tooth. When your enamel is worn away or weakened, or if your gums recede, these sensitive layers become irritated.

What Sensitivity Means for Your Oral Health

Tooth sensitivity can stem from a variety of causes. For example, when inflamed and irritated gum tissue start to pull back from teeth, the sensitive roots become exposed. If gum disease is not addressed, it will cause eventual tooth loss and bone loss. Additionally, plaque buildup and chronic teeth grinding can damage enamel, leaving the tooth’s inner layers vulnerable. Sensitive teeth could also be due to an infected inner pulp from advanced decay or a small crack that allowed for a bacterial invasion. Let us know if you experience tooth sensitivity so we can help find out why!

Treatment for Tooth Sensitivity

There are over-the-counter remedies like desensitizing toothpaste which block the pain and bring relief after several applications. Fluoride, a natural tooth-strengthening mineral, fortifies enamel and can help lessen the pain of tooth sensitivity. Drink fluoridated tap water, brush with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, and consider getting a fluoride treatment at our office. Other treatments, depending on the severity of sensitivity, could include bonding, gum grafts, and root canal therapy.

How to Prevent Sensitive Teeth

The most effective way to prevent tooth sensitivity is to maintain superb oral health habits. Gently brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with a fluoridated anti-sensitivity toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrush, floss at least once a day, drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet, avoid very hot and very cold foods and drinks, and visit us for routine checkups and cleanings every six months.

Your Trusted Dentist in Fredericksburg, VA

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, contact us today to make an appointment.


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