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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Potomac
2010 Opitz Boulevard, # D, Woodbridge, VA 22191

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Understanding Sensitive Teeth

Have you ever experienced a stinging feeling when eating or drinking something that is sweet and cold? How about hot foods or beverages? Or, perhaps you’ve felt a painful sensation when brushing, flossing, or breathing in cold air? If so, then you most likely have sensitive teeth and gums. This common condition impacts the quality of life of many people, but it’s a simple problem to address.

Understanding what exactly is causing your sensitive teeth is important. Without the knowledge of the underlying cause, you will not be able to receive proper treatment. Once you’ve discovered what is causing you to feel discomfort and pain, you can start to take the steps necessary to manage and reverse your symptoms. Then, you’ll be able to return to a normal pain free life where you can eat and drink whatever you want.

There are many underlying causes of tooth and gum sensitivity. Worn down tooth enamel is the most common cause. When this happens, the root of the tooth becomes exposed. Gum disease, receded gums, cracked teeth, tooth decay and aggressive brushing can also lead to enamel erosion. Once enamel has worn down enough, the sensitive nerves found within your tooth’s root come into contact with extreme sensations, leading to pangs of pain.

Determining the cause behind your pain is the first step you need to take to address it. Tooth sensitivity caused by worn down enamel and exposed nerves is usually treated with fluoride supplements and desensitizing toothpastes. Receding gums that lead to sensitivity can be treated via the use of dental sealants. If the above treatments don’t fix your sensitive teeth, you may need a root canal to fix issues in your tooth’s pulp.

The Causes Behind Tooth Sensitivity

  1. If you brush your teeth too hard or use a toothbrush with hard bristles, you can wear down the enamel of your teeth. To avoid this, use gentle brushing motions and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  2. Consuming acidic foods and beverages leads to sensitive teeth. Stay away from citrus, pickles, tomatoes and other acidic items to keep your symptoms at bay.
  3. Grinding your teeth will eventually expose dentin and allow for irritants to hit sensitive nerve tissue. Talk to your dentist about wearing a mouth guard at night to protect your teeth.
  4. Tooth-whitening ingredients that are in toothpastes, mouthwashes and other products can increase teeth sensitivity.
  5. Some mouthwashes contain alcohol and other ingredients that can lead to sensitive teeth and gums. Try to find a mouthwash without these items.
  6. Receding gums caused by gum disease can increase or cause sensitivity. Dental sealants and gum inflammation treatments are the best course of action in these cases.
  7. It’s normal to experience some tooth sensitivity after receiving a tooth filling, extraction or root canal. If the sensation persists, visit your dentist to determine if you have an infection.
  8. Cracked or chipped teeth that are left unaddressed can lead to severe pain. Have your dentist treat the damage as soon as possible.
  9. When older tooth fillings crack or leak, they release bacteria that lead to further enamel breakdown. Replacing the filling is the most common form of treatment when this happens.

In rare cases, tooth sensitivity can be an indicator of a serious oral health issue. That’s why you should always seek out a professional evaluation when you have sensitive teeth. In most cases, the issue is relatively easy to treat with fluoride supplements and special toothpastes.

Treatment for Sensitive Teeth and Gums

  • To ensure great oral health, visit your dentist in Woodbridge regularly.
  • Stay on track with a great dental care routine.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush with gentle movements.
  • Choose a toothpaste that is designed for sensitive teeth and gums.
  • Use a fluoride mouthwash.
  • Wear a night guard to keep from grinding your teeth when you sleep.
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks.

Once you and your dentist have determined the underlying cause of your sensitive teeth, your dentist will be able to come up with a treatment plan. For instance, patients who have developed sensitivity due to grinding their teeth may be prescribed a custom-fitted mouth guard that they will need to wear when they sleep. This prevents tooth fractures and sensitivity from happening.

Refraining from the consumption of acidic foods and drinks such as citrus fruits, carbonated beverages, and wine is another way to prevent sensitivity. These foods and drinks wear away at the enamel. If you choose to consume these types of foods and drinks, be sure to drink water or milk afterwards to neutralize their negative impact. Be careful not to brush too quickly after consuming these items, however, as that can also lead to erosion.

Tips for Tooth Sensitivity

You should always talk to your dentist to receive the best treatment option for you and your unique needs. However, the following dental care tips could help you address your sensitive teeth:

  1. Discover Desensitizing Toothpaste – These toothpastes include special ingredients that stop sensitivity from hitting your tooth’s nerves. They generally only take a few uses to take effect.
  2. Ask About Fluoride – Fluoride treatments can be placed on sensitive areas of your teeth, strengthening the enamel, and fighting off sensitivity.
  3. Find the Remedy at the Roots – Sensitivity caused by receding gums can be addressed via a gum graft. This procedure eliminates sensitivity.

Preventing sensitivity before it starts is always the best course of action. Establishing a solid dental care routine is the best way to achieve this. Brush twice daily, floss daily, brush with gentle motions, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and see your dentist regularly to prevent tooth and gum sensitivity.

If you already have sensitive teeth, talk to your dentist about how you can treat it. In no time at all, you will find that your sensitive teeth are a problem of the past.

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2010 Opitz Boulevard, # D, Woodbridge, VA 22191

(703) 595-2887