Written by: Drew Vanderbrook, DDS (Dallas County Dental Society Member)
If you have ever had a sensitive tooth, you know how painful it can be. Sometimes it feels like a zinger or sharp jolt, and other times it’s a dull ache. There are many reasons why your tooth may feel sensitive, and we will delve into some of the most common causes.
You’re stressed out.
Stress is one of the leading causes of bruxism (teeth grinding). When you consistently grind your teeth, the enamel on the chewing surface may begin to wear. Managing your stress or wearing a night guard at night might prevent some of this damage.
You brush your teeth too hard.
If you use a hard-bristled toothbrush or just brush too aggressively, you may be wearing away the gums around your teeth or the enamel on your tooth. When this happens, areas of the tooth become exposed and can be sensitive to temperature changes or to touch. If you have questions about brushing, ask your dentist about the best tools and techniques to use.
You have a sinus infection.
It may sound crazy, but a sinus infection can make your teeth hurt as well. When inflammation and sinus pressure build up in your sinuses, the nerves that travel to your teeth can be affected, making them feel sensitive. If you feel you may be coming down with a sinus infection, it is best to see your physician to get treated to see if this will improve your tooth sensitivity.
You bleach your teeth too often.
When you receive a bleaching treatment, your dentist probably warned you about a brief period of sensitivity after using professional-grade products. If you use bleaching products from home, you want to make sure you discontinue the use of them if sensitivity develops. Let your dentist know if this happens, and they may have some recommendations that help.
You have a cavity or cracked tooth.
If you feel sensitivity only when you bite down or one tooth has all of the sudden become very sensitive to temperature changes, it is a good idea to check with your dentist for a thorough exam. Your dentist can take X-rays and use tests to determine the exact cause of the pain.
With so many possible causes of tooth sensitivity, it’s best to leave the diagnosis to your dentist. He or she can determine if your sensitivity might be from one of these causes or from something else entirely. To find out more information, check out the American Dental Associations guide to tooth sensitivity below.