Tooth Sensitivity: Causes and Pain Relief

dental freelance writer

Tooth sensitivity can range from being a mere annoyance to being miserably painful. But regardless of how serious your tooth sensitivity is, it’s never fun to deal with. There are various possible causes of tooth sensitivity, so pain relief can differ.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

A number of things can cause tooth sensitivity. One of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity is when your enamel (the hard outermost layer of your teeth) is too thin. This leaves the sensitive areas of your teeth under the enamel exposed.

But there are other causes for tooth sensitivity such as:
• Receding gums, often caused by gum disease
Tooth damage, such as a crack
• Sinus infections
• Intense pressure caused by clenching your jaw

Treatment for your tooth sensitivity will depend on the cause. For a cracked tooth, you’re likely to need a crown to fix the problem. For gum disease, your dentist can recommend a mouth wash to clear up the infection.

Can Tooth Sensitivity Be Normal?

Tooth sensitivity can be normal and isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. However, it can also be a sign of more serious dental problems.

Before treating your tooth pain as if it were regular tooth sensitivity, it’s important to rule out other possibilities.

Some common signs that you’re suffering from normal tooth sensitivity include:
• Tooth sensitivity that’s present in all or most of your teeth
• Sharp, sudden pain when your teeth are exposed to hot or cold temperatures
• Pain when eating or drinking sweet or sour foods

Normal tooth sensitivity can fluctuate. It can come seemingly out of nowhere at times and disappear again as quickly as it started.

In some cases, tooth sensitivity can feel worse in your molars (the big teeth at the back of your mouth) while you’re chewing. In other cases, it might feel worse in your front teeth when you’re taking a sip of cold water. But generally more than one tooth will be affected.

Signs Your Tooth Sensitivity Isn’t Normal

The signs of harmful tooth sensitivity can be similar to normal sensitivity. Both can cause sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures or certain kinds of foods. But there are some signs that could indicate underlying dental problems. Warning signs that could indicate an underlying problem include:
• Only one tooth feeling sensitive
• The tooth pain is severe and doesn’t respond to home remedies for tooth sensitivity
• The pain is worse in the mornings, especially when you bite on your teeth

Any of the above could indicate that the underlying cause of your tooth sensitivity could potentially be damaging and not just normal tooth sensitivity. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity as mentioned above, it’s best to book an appointment with your dentist, as they can help you fix the underlying problem.

Sensitivity and Cracked Tooth Syndrome

Cracked tooth syndrome occurs when a tooth has a tiny crack that’s too small to see with the naked eye, but still causes tooth pain. Cracked tooth syndrome is characterized by pain or sensitivity in a single tooth over a long period of time – often for many months.

Much like with other kinds of tooth sensitivity, exposure to hot or cold temperatures can trigger discomfort. Another common symptom of cracked tooth syndrome is pain when biting down on food, or when releasing your bite.

Tooth pain caused by cracked tooth syndrome normally isn’t constant. At times, you might not experience any pain at all, only for it to return later.

When left untreated for too long, even a tiny crack in your tooth can cause damage. If you believe you’re experiencing cracked tooth syndrome, be sure to visit your dentist.

Sinus Infections and Tooth Pain

Having thin tooth enamel or damage to a tooth aren’t the only causes of tooth sensitivity. Pressure on your teeth caused by inflamed and infected sinuses can also cause tooth sensitivity.

Sensitivity caused by a sinus infection normally isn’t the same as ordinary tooth pain. Unlike other forms of tooth sensitivity, your teeth won’t necessarily be sensitive to temperatures.

Instead, the pain caused by sinusitis will feel dull and like pressure on your teeth (usually the upper teeth). Your pain might also be sensitive to pressure, feeling more intense in your back teeth whenever you bite on something.

Home Remedies for Tooth Sensitivity

There are some things you can do at home to prevent or relieve pain from tooth sensitivity:

• Try using a toothpaste that’s specifically made to relieve tooth pain from sensitivity.
• Avoid foods that are very sweet or sour, as they can trigger sensitivity.
• Don’t neglect your oral hygiene, brush your teeth daily and floss regularly.
• If you suspect a sinus infection might be causing your tooth pain, try breathing in steam or eating spicy foods.
• Don’t clench your jaw. If you’re in the habit of clenching your jaw, do your best to unlearn this, as it can wear down your teeth.

If your tooth pain isn’t intense and you suspect it’s not a problem, trying home remedies can be worthwhile. But you should see your dentist if the pain doesn’t respond to home treatment within a day or two. Your dentist can help you identify what’s causing your tooth pain and discuss treatment options with you.

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