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Understanding Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth are a serious problem that can cause pain and discomfort for those affected by this dental condition. More than 12 percent of Americans suffer from some degree of tooth sensitivity, which can be caused by a variety of common dental issues that include gum disease, erosion of the tooth enamel, and injuries to your teeth.

Tooth sensitivity usually occurs because of problems with the outer enamel of your teeth. This may be caused by tooth decay, cavities, grinding your teeth or receding gums caused by gingivitis or periodontal disease. Sensitive teeth can cause pain, discomfort or other issues that can prevent you from enjoying food and drinks normally.

There is no need to suffer in silence with painfully sensitive teeth. If you or any of your family members are currently experiencing any of the signs of dentin hypersensitivity, which is the technical term for sensitive teeth, your dentist can usually provide some real relief and help in preventing these issues from occurring in the future.

Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth

Some of the most notable signs of deterioration of the tooth enamel and sensitivity of the teeth include the following:

  • Pain or discomfort when biting, chewing, or applying pressure to teeth
  • Discomfort when eating hot or cold foods or drinking hot or cold beverages
  • Pain when brushing or flossing
  • A dull ache or sharp stinging sensation when eating acidic or spicy foods
  • A tingling or unpleasant feeling in your teeth, especially after brushing or flossing

If you or a family member have experienced any of these symptoms, you may be developing tooth sensitivity that could have an impact on your comfort and your ability to enjoy hot or cold foods in the future. Your dentist is a great source of information on the underlying causes of and treatments for sensitive teeth, but we’ll also cover a few of them.

Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

The deterioration of tooth enamel is usually the primary underlying cause of tooth sensitivity. Some of the most commonly reported reasons for sensitive teeth include improper brushing habits or products, gum disease, bruxism, acidic foods in your diet and injuries to your teeth.

The Wrong Toothbrush, Toothpaste or Brushing Method

Abrasive toothpastes and hard toothbrushes can break down the layer of enamel that shields nerve endings and the interior of teeth from outside stimuli. Brushing more gently, eliminating abrasive toothpastes and using a toothbrush with soft bristles can all be useful in reducing the stress on tooth enamel and helping it to stay stronger. This can lower your chance of developing tooth sensitivity and the issues that go along with it.

Gum Disease

Periodontal disease is more commonly referred to as gum disease. This dental condition causes the gums to recede from your teeth, which can sometimes expose decayed areas of teeth or roots that can be much more sensitive to hot, cold or pressure. Your dentist can provide you with treatment options that will address this issue. While gum disease can be treated in the earliest stages, you’ll want to get effective treatment quickly. Protect your teeth from further damage caused by periodontal disease or tooth decay by contacting your dentist today.


Bruxism is the technical term used to describe grinding or clenching your teeth, which can wear away the surfaces of your tooth enamel. Bruxism can also cause headaches or pain in the jaw if not treated promptly. It is important to seek dental treatment immediately if you suspect that you or a family member is suffering from bruxism. This unconscious habit can cause serious damage to your tooth enamel and can lead to sensitive teeth.

The Foods You Eat

Acidic foods and drinks can have a negative impact on tooth enamel. These may include citrus fruits like limes or lemons, tomatoes, pineapples and foods high in vinegar. Cutting back on these foods and brushing thoroughly after consuming them can help to stop the process of enamel deterioration and can reduce your chances of developing tooth sensitivities because of acid in the foods you eat.

Injuries and Tooth Decay

If you have recently had a dental procedure performed on your teeth or have had an accident that damaged your teeth, it is very likely that you will experience a period of temporary sensitivity in the area of your injury or dental treatment. Your dentist may recommend a toothpaste designed to reduce sensitivity during this period of time. This can often reduce discomfort and pain to a manageable level.

Treatments for Sensitive Teeth

While most of the recommendations for managing tooth sensitivity involve avoiding certain activities or foods, there are some positive steps that you can take to address this issue. Your dentist can provide some effective treatment options for you and your family, which may include the following strategies.

  • Fluoride treatments can harden the tooth enamel to provide added protection against the wearing down of this protective shell. This can significantly lower your risks of tooth sensitivity and can help keep your teeth as healthy and strong as possible.
  • Tooth sealants can also be used to strengthen the outer layer of enamel and to reduce the impact of hot, cold or pressure on the interior of your teeth. This can add up to significantly improved symptoms of tooth sensitivity while lowering your risk of tooth decay in the treated areas.
  • Custom mouth guards are a good solution for damage that can be caused by bruxism. Your dentist will typically take molds of your teeth to ensure that these protective night guards will fit snugly and will prevent damage caused by clenching or grinding your teeth at night.

Choosing a qualified and knowledgeable general dentist in Atlanta will help you to manage issues with tooth sensitivity and other dental problems more quickly and effectively. Your dentist can serve as a partner in protecting your dental health and in helping you and your family enjoy a lifetime of brighter and more beautiful smiles.

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