You go to take a sip of cold water, and then you cringe — the sensitivity in your teeth is hard to bear. Sensitivity can keep you from enjoying your favorite foods and drinks, but more importantly, it can be a sign of a dental issue you need to have taken care of. Here is a look at some of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity.
Cavities don't typically cause symptoms when they are small, but when they grow deep enough to reach all of the way through the tooth enamel, they can cause sensitivity. The cavity can leave the nerve tubules in your dentin exposed. Note that you may not see a brown or black spot on your tooth if you have a cavity. It may be between your teeth or on the back surface of a molar. The only way to know for sure if you have a cavity is to have your family dentist take a look.
Do you drink a lot of juice, coffee, or other acidic beverages? You may be doing acid damage to your tooth enamel. This damage thins the enamel over time, leading to sensitivity. Thankfully, if you cut back on your consumption of acidic foods and start using a rinse that contains fluoride, you can slow down the erosion and hopefully ease the sensitivity. Just make sure you make this switch soon, or you may end up with cavities due to the thinned enamel.
Take a look at your gums. Are they red, swollen, or pulling away from your teeth? Gum disease can leave the bottoms of your teeth exposed. The enamel is a lot thinner in this area, so cold and hot beverages come into contact with your nerves and can cause sensitivity. Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash and using dental floss daily can help. If you are starting to see pockets in your gums, however, you may need to see a dentist for treatment.
When you brush your teeth, do you really push on the brush and apply a lot of pressure? There is such a thing as brushing too hard — it can wear away and weaken your enamel. Switch to a softer toothbrush, and be gentler as you brush. You'll still remove the plaque from your teeth, but you'll do less damage to your teeth in the process.
If your sensitivity does not clear up within a week or two, visit the dentist!