Enjoying an ice cream or a sweet treat is a pleasurable experience for many people, but not for those with sensitive teeth. Eating certain foods can make their teeth twinge uncomfortably or even cause sudden sharp pain. Tooth sensitivity is a common problem experienced by many adults at one time or another. Usually, it’s triggered by eating or drinking something hot, cold, sweet, or sour. Sometimes breathing in on a cold winter’s day can be enough to trigger pain. Some people even find it uncomfortable to brush and floss their teeth.
What Can Cause Tooth Sensitivity?
Teeth are covered by a layer of enamel, the hardest substance in the human body that protects the softer layer of the tooth underneath called dentine. The dentine surrounds the tooth nerve right at the centre of the tooth. Problems can arise when tooth enamel is eroded or damaged, allowing sensations when you eat or drink certain foods to penetrate the dentine and reach the tooth nerve, causing sensitivity.
Tooth enamel damage or loss can be due to several different reasons listed below.
Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard
It is a common belief that you must scrub your teeth hard to clean them, but brushing them too aggressively can wear down tooth enamel, as can using a hard-bristled toothbrush. Brushing too hard can wear away your gums, exposing the tooth root which isn’t covered in tooth enamel so sensations can more easily penetrate the tooth, and you are more likely to suffer from tooth sensitivity.
Eating Too Many Sugary or Acidic Foods
Eating something sugary feeds bacteria found naturally in dental plaque, a sticky biofilm that coats your teeth between regular brushing and flossing. These bacteria create a weak acid that gradually erodes tooth enamel, damaging it and exposing the dentine underneath. The same can happen if you have a diet high in acidic foods, as the acids will also erode and damage your tooth enamel.
Teeth Grinding and Clenching
Many people grind and clench their teeth during the night, a habit called bruxism that can damage teeth extensively, wearing down tooth enamel. One of the early signs of bruxism is noticing your teeth have become more sensitive.
Overusing Teeth Whitening Products
There’s little doubt a beautiful bright smile is attractive, but unfortunately, many people make the mistake of overusing over-the-counter teeth whitening products. They think their smile will become even whiter, but this isn’t the case. Some teeth whitening products are very hard on tooth enamel and can erode it over time. If you want to whiten your teeth safely, ask us about professional teeth whitening that will make your smile brighter and whiter without harming your teeth.
Any damage to a tooth, such as a crack, chip, tooth decay, or even a loose filling, can result in tooth sensitivity. There is also a real risk of bacteria getting inside the tooth, causing infection and decay. It is essential to have any damaged teeth mended promptly to protect them and avoid tooth sensitivity.