What Dentists Want You to Know About Sensitive Teeth
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What Dentists Want You to Know About Sensitive Teeth

Everyday pain can start to seem normal over time – but if your teeth are sensitive, it’s time to ask your dentist about it.

Imagine that you’re driving to work when the tire pressure warning light flashes on your dashboard. No problem, fill up your tires later… done! It’s not an emergency, but you’re aware that driving on low pressure tires for a length of time will damage tires and increase your risk of a dangerous incident.

Now wouldn’t it be great if our bodies had a dashboard with warning lights to notify us when our body needs maintenance?

Hold on, we do – we have pain. Even though you’re busy with everyday life, ignoring pain will eventually catch up to you. Just like that flat tire.

Tooth sensitivity is a common warning sign that we ignore. It’s a manageable pain, which is why we suffer through it. We’re busy, and it’s just a little sensitivity. We stop eating ice cream or sipping hot coffee, and we skip over the sensitive area when brushing.

If this sounds familiar and you experience tooth sensitivity, we want you know that it is preventable and reversible – and most importantly, if left untreated it may lead to more serious problems. Tooth sensitivity may be a symptom of a significant underlying issue, such as a tooth crack, decay or gum disease, that needs to be treated asap.

Here is everything the team at Midlothian Dental Center wants you to know about tooth sensitivity:

What’s really happening when your teeth hurt?

Dentin is a softer layer under the enamel that extends under the gum surrounding the nerves and root. Dentin tissue is extremely sensitive when exposed. When there is a gap between the enamel or gumline, things that never hurt your teeth before (like temperature, acidity, air) may feel very painful.

What causes dentin exposure?

Receding gums
Tooth sensitivity is often the first sign of receding gums. When gums recede, the gaps between the teeth and gum line expose the dentin, causing pain. If you notice these gaps, or your teeth look longer, schedule an appointment with you dentist to avoid gum and bone loss.

You may wonder why your gums may be receding. This can be from a variety of reasons, from overbrushing to tooth grinding to gum disease. Follow gentle brushing and flossing techniques, and let’s talk more about gum health in your next dental appointment.

Tooth decay or cracked tooth
Decay and cracks damage the enamel exposing the dentin. Regular x-rays and exams will catch these issues. If you notice a broken tooth, schedule an appointment as soon as you can. Untreated decay and tooth damage can infect the root, which may require a root canal.

Recent dental work
Tooth sensitivity may occur after recent dental work. If the pain doesn’t subside or increases after a week or two, it’s important to tell your dentist.

What can you do to prevent or alleviate tooth sensitivity?

Be Gentle and Protect
– Brush your teeth 2x a day for 2 minutes. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss daily. Use gentle circular strokes, rather than harsh back and forth scrubbing.
-Use a toothpaste like Synsodyne Pronamel.
-Wear a mouth guard at night. Tooth grinding is a leading cause of eroded enamel and gum recession.

Rethink Your Diet
Consider limiting and taking care when eating or drinking acidic foods and drinks, which remove small amount of enamel gradually.

Be Diligent about Cleanings and Checkups
Don’t wait until you feel pain to schedule an appointment. Prevention happens through regular check-ups and cleanings.

If tooth sensitivity is keeping you from your cleanings, let us know. We have several sedation options to help patients who experience pain during appointments.

Finally, what we most want you to know about tooth sensitivity is that if you haven’t checked in with your dentist about it, it’s important that you do. We’re here to help with sensitivity, and we can tell you whether a change in toothpaste is your first step, or if there’s more we need to do to help you.

For more ways to prevent and protect your teeth check out these resources:

5 Foods That Can Crack Your Teeth
Brushing and Prevention for Kids

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