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Did you know that one in eight adults struggles with sensitive teeth? Are you one of them?

Tooth sensitivity is frustrating, uncomfortable, and can even be a sign of more serious dental issues.

If you’re dealing with sensitivity right now, a Lakewood, CO dentist can help. Listed below are six things they want you to know.

1. Symptoms of Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is characterized by pain or discomfort at the roots of certain teeth. For some people, this pain is mild and easy to brush off (no pun intended). In other cases, though, it can be quite severe.

Often, tooth sensitivity is triggered by a particular situation or exposure to a specific substance. The following are some of the most well-known triggers:

  • Consuming hot foods or beverages
  • Consuming cold foods or beverages
  • Exposure to cold air
  • Consuming acidic foods or beverages
  • Exposure to cold water (while drinking, during dental cleanings, etc.)
  • Brushing or flossing the teeth
  • Rinsing with alcohol-based mouthwashes

Some folks might notice that these situations and substances always trigger sensitivity. Others might only experience sensitivity occasionally. 

2. Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Your local Lakewood, Colorado dentist wants you to know that tooth sensitivity often occurs when dentin, a soft layer that lies under the enamel (or outer layer) of the teeth, is exposed. There are lots of reasons why dentin becomes exposed, including these:

Toothbrush Abrasion

Toothbrush abrasion is a fancy way of saying “brushing your teeth too hard.” When you’re too vigorous of a brusher, over time, you can wear down the enamel of your teeth. This leads to exposed dentin, which can in turn increase tooth sensitivity.

Acidic Food and Drinks

Acidic foods and drinks can wear down your tooth enamel over time.

Citrus foods (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.) are very acidic, as are drinks that contain them (such as lemonade and orange juice). Carbonated beverages are more acidic than non-carbonated beverages, too. Even those that don’t contain added sugar may cause tooth sensitivity in some people.

Gum Recession

As you get older, your gums may naturally start to recede or shrink back. This causes the roots of your teeth to become exposed, which can lead to increased sensitivity since there’s no enamel for protection.

Gum Disease

Poor dental hygiene leads to a buildup of plaque or tartar on the teeth. This can contribute to gum recession and can even destroy the bones that support the teeth. Both of these issues can worsen tooth sensitivity and increase your risk of tooth decay and infections.

Tooth Grinding

Do you grind your teeth often? If so, you’re likely wearing down the enamel on your teeth, exposing the dentin, and causing or increasing your chances of experiencing sensitivity.

Cracked Teeth

If you have teeth that are cracked, they’re going to be more sensitive than healthy, intact teeth. This is especially true if cracks run down to the root of the tooth. 

Tooth Whitening

Most tooth whitening treatments do not damage the enamel of the teeth directly. However, some people might experience increased sensitivity after whitening their teeth, especially if they already have worn down enamel.

3. Tips for Managing Tooth Sensitivity at Home

There are some steps you can take to manage tooth sensitivity at home. If your discomfort is mild or only happens on occasion, you might find relief from the following:

  • Specialized toothpaste: Some brands of toothpaste are made specifically for people with sensitive teeth
  • Regular brushing and flossing: Good oral hygiene will help to prevent tooth decay and gum recession, both of which contribute to or can make sensitivity worse
  • Avoiding triggering foods or beverages: If you notice that acidic, cold, or hot foods and beverages trigger sensitivity, try to avoid them (or at least limit your exposure to them)

Until you can get to the dentist, these tips can help you feel more comfortable.  

4. When to See a Dentist

In general, it’s always best to see a dentist when you’re dealing with tooth sensitivity. This is especially true if you haven’t found relief from avoiding triggering foods or using specialized products.

Your dentist can help you get to the bottom of what’s causing your sensitivity. They can also provide a more personalized solution that will help you start feeling better sooner.   

5. Dental Treatments for Tooth Sensitivity

There are lots of treatments that your dentist might recommend to help you reduce the severity of your sensitivity or get rid of it altogether.

Sometimes, a thorough cleaning can make a big difference. They might also use a fluoride treatment to “de-sensitize” the teeth and provide some extra protection.

If your dentist finds that you have cracks, cavities, gum disease, or other issues that are causing your sensitivity, they can also take steps to address them specifically (fillings, crowns, root canals, etc.). 

6. Preventing Tooth Sensitivity

Finally, your local Lakewood dentists also want you to know what you can do to prevent future episodes of tooth sensitivity.

The first (and likely the most important technique) is to brush and floss your teeth regularly, preferably with products that contain fluoride and are designed for sensitive teeth.  Regular check-ups and cleanings are important prevention tools, too.

In between appointments, it’s a good idea to limit your consumption of acidic foods and drinks. When you do eat or drink them, rinse your mouth with water afterward.

If you’re thinking about getting your teeth whitened, be sure to talk to your dentist first. They can assess your enamel and let you know if you might be more prone to sensitivity afterward.

Contact a Lakewood, CO Dentist Today

Now that you know more about tooth sensitivity, its causes, and potential treatment options, are you ready to find relief? If so, it’s time to get in touch with a Lakewood, CO dentist. 

Since 1991, Fermelia Dental has been offering a wide range of dental services to help you combat tooth sensitivity for good. From general restorative dentistry to root canals, we do it all.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact us today online or by phone at 303-987-2121.