Dental FAQs
smoking and gum disease

Why are my teeth sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity is very common: more than 40 million adults in the US experience sensitive teeth at some time or another.* Sensitive teeth are caused by nerve irritation deep in the tooth in a layer of tissue called dentin, which is found beneath the hard outer enamel. This problem most commonly occurs when you have worn tooth enamel or your gums have receded. Consuming large quantities of acid-containing foods or drinks (citrus juices, soft drinks, acidic fruits, wine, etc.); suffering from bulimia or severe acid reflux; certain medications; brushing too hard with hard-bristled brushes; and simple poor dental hygiene all can be reasons why enamel and/or gums get damaged, causing tooth sensitivity.

In addition, with virtually any dental procedure—implants, extractions, whitening, and others—sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks is a potential side effect. After a procedure like this, you may notice temporary sensitivity to certain sweet foods, air, or extreme temperature.

Warning: Sometimes tooth sensitivity is caused by an underlying problem such as a cavity or abscess. If you have sensitivity in any tooth or teeth for more than a week—and you haven't had any dental work done—please give us a call so we can diagnose the cause of your sensitivity. If you have had an extraction or other oral surgery, please let us know if your sensitivity lasts for more than two weeks.

Sensitive Teeth Advice

  • Maintain good oral hygiene. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and follow proper brushing techniques. If you need instruction on effective brushing, please ask Dr. Welch or one of our hygienists for information.
  • Consider using sensitivity-reducing toothpaste for a few weeks after dental procedure if you are experiencing discomfort due to sensitivity.
  • Use a sensitivity-reducing toothpaste daily if you have a diagnosed ongoing dental problem that is causing sensitivity.
  • If you have unexplained sensitivity in any tooth or teeth for more than a week, please give us a call so we can diagnose the cause of your sensitivity.
  • If you've had a dental procedure and sensitivity lasts more than two weeks afterward, please call us.
  • If you are suffering from tooth sensitivity, and it is painful for more than a moment at a time, take an over-the-counter pain reliever and apply a warm compress to your cheek on the side where sensitivity is occurring.
If your teeth are still sensitive after all of these standard recommendations, and Dr. Welch has ruled out any serious oral health concern, we may suggest treatment for tooth hypersensitivity. Protective coatings, prescription fluoride gel, and dietary changes all may be part of tooth sensitivity treatment that will relieve your symptoms.

*www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=S&iid=329&aid=1319

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sensitive tooth advice in Greensboro, NC

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