man with popsicle wincing in pain

Plenty of things in life are a “pain” to deal with. But one that can be literally painful and disruptive is teeth sensitivity. Not many plan for sensitive teeth and there are a number of factors that play into why it happens.

An estimated 1 in 8 adults in the U.S. experience over-sensitive teeth. With this issue being so prevalent, it’s no wonder patients look to their dentists for answers and solutions.

If you’re someone who suffers from sensitive teeth, keep reading to learn more about symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention.

Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth

The biggest symptom if you have sensitive teeth is radiating pain, much like a toothache. More specifically, the discomfort is at the roots of the affected teeth.

Sensitivity becomes more obvious when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages. Cold air, brushing and flossing teeth, or using alcohol-based mouthwash can also result in discomfort. Symptoms can range from mild to intense and appear when triggered.

Causes of Sensitivity

Because having sensitive teeth is a commonly shared condition, several factors could be at play. Some individuals even experience tooth sensitivity naturally due to age. Our dentists will need to inspect your teeth and gums to determine what the exact cause is.

Some of the possible causes of sensitive teeth include:

Options for Treatment

Fortunately, there are ways to treat sensitive teeth. The caveat, however, is that the treatment depends on what the cause of sensitivity is. One of our dentists will need to perform a dental exam  to check your mouth.

The findings from the examination will then influence the ultimate decision on treatment. If you have mild tooth sensitivity, our dentists may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste or a softer toothbrush. A fluoride gel applied to your teeth to strengthen enamel may also prove helpful.

For more severe cases, treatment options may include a:

  • Gum graft for receding gums
  • Root canal
  • Custom-made mouthguard to discourage grinding

Underlying medical conditions contributing to sensitivity should also be treated separately to prevent further damage to enamel.

Prevention Tips

Assuming you are not predisposed to sensitive teeth, there are ways to prevent the condition altogether. You may have to make a lifestyle adjustment, such as watching the foods that you eat.  Other tips are easy, like regularly practicing oral hygiene habits.

Tooth enamel serves as the hard, protective layer for your teeth. When this covering wears down, the layer beneath your enamel, dentin, becomes exposed. Dentin is less dense and contains small, hollow tubules. Exposed tubules allow cold, hot, or acidic food and beverages to better reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. This causes sensitivity.

Work to prevent tooth sensitivity by following these tips:

  • Don’t brush too hard and use a soft toothbrush
  • Avoid acidic foods or drinks, i.e., soda, candy
  • Seek treatment for teeth clenching or grinding to protect enamel
  • Ask our dentists about current or future whitening or bleaching treatment as it can result in sensitivity
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily
  • Stay away from abrasive toothpaste

Make an Appointment

Sensitive teeth should not be ignored because our dentists in Grand Rapids and Grand Haven, MI, can help. We’ll analyze your specific situation and offer advice on next steps. Whether it be new toothpaste or gum disease treatment, we’ll provide guidance.

Make an appointment today by calling one of our MI Smiles Dental locations or feel free to contact us online.