Sensitive Teeth: What Causes Tooth Sensitivity & More

woman with sensitive teeth wincing in pain with ice cream bar

Having sensitive teeth is one of ways your body is trying to tell you that’ something’s wrong. But toothaches and tooth sensitivity can be extremely uncomfortable, making it difficult to eat. Foods at varying temperatures (like hot or cold) and even different ingredients can make sensitivity flare up when you least expect it.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity

The type of tooth sensitivity that you have can tell Dr. Bestandji a bit about what’s going on with the health of your smile. Some of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity that we see in our Princeton, NJ dentist office include the following:

Gum Disease / Receding Gums

Your gums are meant to cover the roots of your teeth. But aggressive toothbrushing or periodontal disease can cause your gingival tissues to pull back. When they do, your hypersensitive tooth roots are exposed. Drinking or brushing causes stimuli to their surfaces, which in turn leads to sudden sensitivity.

Whitening Toothpaste

A huge culprit of tooth sensitivity is over the counter whitening toothpaste. When you use it for several days, it can cause the tiny pores on your enamel to open up and be more receptive to stimuli or temperature changes. The best way to treat this type of tooth sensitivity is to stop using the whitening toothpaste and replace it with a sensitivity formulated toothpaste.

A Cavity

Sometimes cavities don’t hurt or cause any type of symptoms at all. In other instances, they can lead to sensitivity or even a sharp pain radiating from a specific tooth. Watch out especially for sensitivity to sweets (including beverages like a soda or flavored coffee) and warm temperatures.

Cracked Tooth 

Cracked teeth sensitivity is usually felt when you bite down or immediately after you release biting pressure off of a tooth. More often than not, people will experience a more severe pain with this type of dental problem.

Sinus Infection

Your upper teeth have long roots that reach well upwards toward your sinus cavities. If you’re experiencing nasal congestion or a sinus infection, you may start to experience “phantom” toothaches alongside of it. The pressure from your sinuses can push against the tips of certain tooth roots, triggering pain or sensitivity.

Cold Sensitivity

This is one of the most common types of tooth sensitivity that people complain of. Fortunately, it doesn’t always mean that there’s something wrong with your tooth. Reasons like weak enamel or teeth whitening could be to blame, but some people are just more sensitive to cold temperatures than others.

Why Are My Teeth Sensitive All of a Sudden?

 What causes sudden tooth sensitivity? If your tooth is experiencing hypersensitivity all of a sudden, it could be due to new structural damage or an infection.

For instance, once a tooth’s nerve starts to abscess, it can cause a sudden toothache or one that tends to come and go on an intermittent basis. Or if you’ve suddenly developed a sinus infection, you might have a tooth that’s throbbing (when in reality, it’s just the root being pressed against by your sinuses.)

For sudden sensitivity on a specific tooth, you need to have it looked at by our Princeton dentist. If the sensitivity is more generalized and across several teeth, it may have something to do with the type of toothpaste that you’re using.

Tooth Sensitivity After a Filling

It can be normal to experience a little bit of sensitivity after dental work, such as having a filling done. But “How long does tooth sensitivity last after having a filling?” you ask? It depends, but normally no more than a couple of weeks.

When you need a large filling, the nerve inside of your tooth takes a bit of time to respond to its new structure. Essentially, it pulls back a bit after you get a filling. But if your filling is large, it can take a little longer than just a few days. If for any reason your tooth is still sensitive after a couple of weeks, let our Princeton, NJ dentist know.

Tooth Sensitivity After a Crown

As with getting a large filling, teeth can be hypersensitive in the beginning after getting a crown. Fortunately, Dr. Bestandji can place a desensitizing product over your tooth before the “cap” is bonded in place. This measure helps to limit any sensitivity, if not eliminate it altogether.

Tooth Sensitivity After a Root Canal

Getting a root canal helps stop and prevent any sensitivity, so it’s not normal to have a sensitive tooth after endodontic treatment. However, your mouth could be a little sore from the injection site where the numbing medication went in. Root canals remove the nerves and pain receptors from inside your tooth, so they’re no longer capable of feeling painful stimuli.

Tooth Sensitivity Treatments

At Canal Vista Family Dental, we usually recommend one or a combination of the following for treating tooth sensitivity:

Fluoride Application or Desensitizing Treatments 

Dr. Bestandji may want to see you in our Princeton, NJ dentist office every 3-4 months to perform a desensitizing treatment or fluoride varnish application. Both can help with sensitivity on otherwise healthy teeth, so that you can eat the foods you love without worrying about pain getting in the way.

Sensitivity Toothpaste 

When you buy a sensitivity toothpaste, using it every day helps to block off the tiny pores in your enamel, which house microscopic nerve endings. What’s the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth? Any sensitive teeth toothpaste that’s marked with an ADA seal is scientifically proven in clinical studies to be effective.

Mouthwash for Sensitive Teeth

A bit less effective than other options, mouthwash with fluoride or designed for sensitive teeth can help in instances of severe tooth sensitivity (when used in conjunction with other methods.)

Tooth Sensitivity Treatment (Princeton, NJ)

If you’re not sure of the cause of your tooth sensitivity, or it’s getting in the way of your lifestyle, call the Princeton dental team at Canal Vista Family Dental today to set up an exam.

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