Should I be worried about my tooth sensitivity? 

It can be hard to know if your tooth sensitivity is something to be worried about. On the one hand, tooth sensitivity is more common than you might think. In fact, according to The Journal of The American Dental Association, 1 in 8 people report having sensitive teeth.

Sensitivity can often be a warning sign that your teeth are being damaged. Because sensitivity is so common, the solution can seem obvious - “If it hurts, don’t do it.” In other words, we tend to simply avoid situations that can cause us to experience pain.

While avoiding behaviors and activities that cause pain is generally a good practice, doing so may only mask underlying, chronic problems. For that reason, it’s important to discuss any sensitivity with a professional. For residents in South Fargo, North Fargo, or the surrounding area, South University Dental Associates is an excellent place to start to get your sensitivity under control. 

When to talk to a dentist about sensitivity

See a dentist If you suddenly experience more tooth sensitivity than normal. A good rule of thumb is to wait three days. If your unusual sensitivity does not subside within that time frame, you’re due to schedule an appointment and have your teeth examined to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed.

Don’t wait for your next appointment. This is a common course of action, but it can be a big mistake. This is because more damage can be inflicted by waiting. Sensitivity might be caused by a crack or chip that happened without your knowledge, and over time, that crack or chip can get worse if not treated properly. Make sure to get issues treated quickly because further damage is caused. 

What causes tooth sensitivity? 

Most sudden tooth sensitivity results from one of these four causes. A dentist will help you determine which of these root causes are leading to your sensitivity.

  1. Gum Recession: Gum disease is like weight gain - it usually creeps up on you slowly. Gum disease is a challenge for many, but the effect it has on you is largely determined by how it is managed. The early signs of gum disease include tenderness and bleeding of gums. Overtime, this can expose the root structures of your teeth, leading to sensitivity. While there is no cure for gum disease, it can often be managed effectively with proper care. Proper care is paramount in ensuring that gum disease does not get worse. The usual steps, such as regular brushing and flossing are helpful, but other interventions can also be useful, such as getting a softer toothbrush, reducing the pressure used when brushing, or making sure to drink water along with foods or sugary beverages. All of these steps will help prevent gum recession, and if it is already occurring, it will help ensure that further damage does not occur. 
  2. Grinding Teeth: dentists have a word for grinding or clenching teeth - bruxism. Bruxism van be caused by a variety of factors, including medications, stress, anxiety, or even caffeine consumption. This sudden tooth sensitivity can often be accompanied by headaches. If you’re experiencing a heightened tooth sensitivity, while also experiencing heightened stress, sleep loss, or a change of medications or caffeine intake, it’s possible that the two phenomena are related. Often, the solution to this type of sensitivity can be solved by changes to your lifestyle. Your dentist can also often prescribe a bruxism device, like a mouth guard or other similar device to limit the damage typically associated with tooth damage. 
  3. Tooth Decay: Tooth decay happens when enamel and dentine are destroyed by bacteria. The bacteria is acidic, and the acid erodes the enamel and dentine. The bacteria is fed by sugar , so limiting sugar consumption can help with preventing tooth decal. By treating early signs of erosion early, a sealant can often be applied to protect the tooth so cavities don’t form.
  4. Fractured Tooth: Your teeth can fracture without you knowing. These small cracks can even be difficult to see, but can be highly painful, or lead to sensitivity.The treatment for fractured teeth varies depending on your situation, so it’s important that action steps are prescribed by a dentist. Like cracks or chips, even small fractures will grow over time; leaving a fracture for too long can often mean larger interventions are required, like root canals. 

What can I do about tooth sensitivity? 

The best action step when you or your family is experiencing tooth sensitivity is to consult a dentist. That’s because a dentist will be able to understand the true nature and root causes of your pain, so they can create a plan of action tailored to your individual needs. If you’re looking for a dentist to help with sensitive teeth in Fargo North Dakota or Moorhead Minnesota, consider scheduling with a family dentist at South University Dental Associates in Fargo. We’ll help determine the causes of your pain, so you know what actions are needed to keep your teeth healthy