If you feel tooth pain every time you consume hot or cold foods or drinks, eat something sweet or sour, breathe in cold air, or even when brushing and flossing, it is possible that you’re suffering from tooth sensitivity.
The crown of healthy teeth is protected by enamel – the strongest substance in your body. The tooth root is protected by a layer called cementum. Underneath the enamel and cementum is a less dense tooth substance called dentin that contains microscopic tubes. So, when the dentin loses its protective covering, the tubules permit heat, cold, acidic, and sticky elements to stimulate nerves and cells inside the tooth, causing hypersensitivity and discomfort when you drink cold or hot drinks, chew, or breath through the mouth.
The pain or discomfort can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- A cracked tooth
- Tooth decay
- Worn tooth enamel
- Worn fillings, or
- Exposed tooth roots due to aggressive brushing, gum recession, or gum disease
- Teeth sensitivity after a dental procedure like whitening
- Teeth sensitivity after eating acidic foods like lemons
- Vulnerability to hormonal changes
The two primary causes of sensitive teeth are:
- Exposed tooth roots due to gum loss/recession
Tooth sensitivity can occur when gum tissue is lost, or when gums pull away from the teeth. Gum loss is, in turn, caused by hard brushing or failure to brush and floss regularly. When gum tissue recedes, or is lost, the part of the tooth below the gumline (tooth root) is exposed. The root (dentine) contains miniscule tunnels that carry fuel and lead to the nerve center – known as the pulp. When heat or cold touches these tunnels, the tooth fluid excited the nerve, resulting in tooth pain.
- Tooth decay
Sensitivity can also occur if the tooth enamel (hard surface layer) gets worn away, exposing the dentine to the oral environment. The dentine contains numerous small tubules that connect to the pulp, which contains nerve endings. If external stimulus is transmitted to the pulp, you can experience a sharp pain.
What causes gum sensitivity?
While tooth sensitivity originates from the tooth, gum sensitivity originates from the gums. The major cause of this sensitivity is gingivitis – the first stage of periodontal (gum) disease. Common signs of gingivitis include swollen and tender gums, bleeding gums, and bad breath. As gingivitis progresses into periodontal disease, you may also go through gum recession.
Gum sensitivity emanating from gingivitis and periodontal disease is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, which causes plaque to build up along the gum line. If left untreated, the condition can progress to advanced periodontal disease. Other causes of gum sensitivity include tobacco, diabetes, pregnancy, and crooked teeth.
Hormones and gum / teeth sensitivity
Women tend to be prone to hormonal shifts that can cause troubles and problems all over the body. It should come as no surprise that hormones can affect your oral health, from mood swings that accompany premenstrual hormonal fluctuations to bone density loss after menopause. Fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels in the body may influence your oral health at different stages of your life as follows:
Oral Health and Puberty
When you reach puberty, your body is exposed to enormous amounts of hormones for the first time. Hormonal surges during the beginning of puberty might cause transient gum swelling and inflammation, which might cause minor discomfort or sensitivity to occur. As your body adjusts to the new hormones, you may notice some bleeding when brushing your teeth.
Oral Health, Your Period, and Birth Control Pills
The commencement of your monthly period, as well as the usage of oral contraceptives, can make your mouth sore, swollen, and inflamed, similar to the symptoms of puberty. Some women have no problems, while others discover that their sensitivity requires them to postpone cleanings until later in their cycle — usually two weeks following the first day of their period — in order to avoid acute discomfort.
Oral Health and Pregnancy
The body goes through a lot during pregnancy, and your teeth are no exception. Your mouth could be terrible as you prepare to give birth, from the gum and soft tissue changes that come with the hormonal changes to pregnant gingivitis, a minor form of gum disease that normally goes away after you give birth. To add insult to injury, morning sickness can cause acid damage to your teeth, as can dry mouth caused by hormonal fluctuations.
Oral Health and Menopause
Menopause is a major life transition that affects all aspect of your life. Your perception of taste may be reduced or heightened, your tooth sensitivity may rise, and a minor burning sensation may occur at seemingly random moments. Hormones are to blame for all of these changes in dental health. More severely, the hormonal alterations linked with menopause can cause two major problems: dry mouth and bone loss. Both disorders can result in tooth loss, increased decay and cavities, and a variety of other problems, ranging from moderate halitosis to potentially fatal cardiac difficulties caused by oral germs entering your circulation through a broken or damaged tooth.
Natural remedies for tooth and gum sensitivity
Proper oral hygiene should be the first step in preventing tooth decay, gum diseases, and pain from sensitive teeth. Good practices such as brushing and flossing regularly, can also help to mitigate the dental impacts of hormones. If you brush your teeth too aggressively or use a hard brush, you can wear away the enamel and injure your gums, exposing the tooth roots. Consider changing your brushing habits and using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
If you are already experiencing sensitivity, it can be successfully managed depending on the cause. While both conditions can lead to serious mouth health concerns, gum and tooth sensitivity are preventable and treatable.
Ideas on How to Stop Teeth Sensitivity after Whitening
- Proper at-home dental care: An important first step is to practice good oral hygiene, which entails the use of proper brushing technique with a soft-bristled toothbrush and the use of dental floss. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once .
- Avoid acidic drinks and foods: Consuming fruit juices, pop, red wine, and acidic fruits and foods puts enamel under constant attack. So, reduce your intake of these drinks and foods, or at least use a straw to bypass the teeth. To get rid of sensitive teeth after eating lemon and other acidic items, immediately rinse your mouth with water. This eliminates any remaining acid on the tooth surface and lowers the acidity of the oral saliva. You can then chew sugar-free gum.
- Apply Aloe Vera – infused dental gel: This is a wonder-plant that solves a multitude of problems, including helping to heal wounds and burns on the skin. When applied to the sore areas in your mouth a few times a day, it can help tame pain and inflammation in the gums.
- Use specialized toothpaste for sensitive teeth: There are several specialized toothpaste brands on the market designed to help soothe sensitive teeth. Some of them contain potassium nitrate, an active agent that helps to block the tubules in the dentin. Acid erosion toothpastes also help minerals penetrate deep into the enamel surface to repair microdamage and rebuild enamel strength
- Clean the gum line using Deep Clean Toothpaste: It helps to penetrate hard to reach areas in order to neutralize harmful plaque bacteria around the gum line for healthier gums.
- Use Tooth Sensitive Treatments to remineralise tooth enamel and effectively stop tooth sensitivity. These products deposit synthetic nanoparticle hydroxyapatite (represents approximately 97% of enamel composition and 70% of the dentin) to fill the dentinal tubules and repair compromised sections of enamel, which allows for improved protection of the inner layers of tooth.
- Use baking soda treatments: If you have irregular saliva production (excess or too little), it can soften tooth enamel and aggravate the sensitivity. In these cases, you can use baking soda toothpaste to neutralize plaque acids and gradually harden the tooth back to normalcy.
- Use remineralization custom teeth trays to apply Remineralization Gel for reducing teeth sensitivity after teeth whitening. The gel remineralizes and desensitizes teeth and gums completely, reducing pain and repair burned wounds for a healthy mouth. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed by the gums, to help strengthen gums and teeth enamel.
- Wear a Night Guard: Grinding your teeth at night can cause teeth to chip and damage the enamel, ultimately causing tooth sensitivity. To prevent this, you should consider wearing a night guard while sleeping.
If none of the home remedies are working, you may consider asking your dentist to put sealants. These are desensitizing agents like plastic resins or fluoride varnish applies to the sensitive tooth areas. If the hypersensitivity is severe and persistent, you may have to consider tooth canal or endodontic treatment.
Professional Management of Tooth and Gum Sensitivity
Sensitive teeth and gums may be an indicator of more serious oral problems. Before you take any action, it is important that you consult your dentist for a diagnostic evaluation. This will determine the extent of your problem and the most appropriate remedy. For instance, your dentist may recommend brushing techniques to reduce the pain, restoration of damaged teeth, or recommend mouth guards to reduce the impact of clenching and grinding at night.
It’s also critical to keep your scheduled appointments. Consult your dentist if you’re having problems with your teeth and gums that could be due to a hormone shift. Make sure to inform your dentist about your overall health as well, including your reproductive health. This will help with scheduling appointments during your cycle when your gums are less likely to be irritated or sensitive, as well as ensuring both your health and the health of your unborn child during your pregnancy.