At Harmony Dental, Dr. da Costa and his friendly and professional staff want all of their patients to enjoy the best oral health possible. Due to its innate complexity, a number of oral problems can arise even if you brush and floss daily. One of the most common oral health issues patients deal with is sensitive teeth.

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the soft interior of your tooth become irritated by outside stimuli, such as hot, cold, sweet, and even sour foods and drinks. This irritation can cause you to experience sharp, sudden bursts of pain that seem to radiate out from a tooth to the surrounding area. Fortunately, tooth sensitivity can be dealt with once you identify the underlying cause of the problem. With that in mind, here are a few common reasons why patients experience tooth sensitivity.

Overuse of Mouthwash

While you should include a nightly rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash as part of your oral hygiene routine, you can overuse the product. If you frequently take swigs of mouthwash to freshen your breath throughout the day, you could be contributing to tooth sensitivity. Mouthwash contains acids that can irritate already-sensitive teeth, making the problem even worse. If you feel the need to use mouthwash frequently to provide fresh breath, consider asking Dr. da Costa for a recommendation of a neutral fluoride rinse.

An Acidic Diet

While there’s no denying their wonderful flavor, foods high in acidity present a danger to the health of your teeth. Acids found in foods such as tomatoes, lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits can weaken tooth enamel, making them more susceptible to decay. Once your tooth enamel has become weakened, the delicate underlying layer of dentin becomes exposed to outside stimuli, making your teeth more sensitive to outside stimuli. To help neutralize the acids found in these types of foods, try finishing a highly acidic meal by eating a slice of cheese or drinking a glass of milk.

Tooth Whiteners

While no part of your appearance make as noticeable a difference as a brilliantly bright smile, you can over do it when trying to whiten your teeth. Most over-the-counter whitening agents contain peroxide-based bleaching solutions, which can cause tooth sensitivity. Fortunately, this kind of tooth sensitivity usually goes away once you stop using the product causing the discomfort. When using any whitening product, always follow the directions outlined on the product’s packaging. Even if you’re tempted to expedite the whitening process, over using a product is more likely to cause damage to the health of your teeth than improve their appearance.

Gum Recession

When your gums pull away from the base of your teeth, the roots of a tooth become exposed. A tooth’s roots contain thousands of tiny tubes that lead directly into a tooth’s nerve center. When healthy, a tooth’s roots are generally concealed under the protective covering of gum tissue. However, if you suffer from periodontal disease, the gums may start to recede away from the base of your teeth, which allows outside stimuli, such as hot or cold, to cause tooth pain.

Over Brushing

Even though it’s easy to think that the harder your brush, the cleaner your teeth become, you can actually damage your teeth by brushing too hard. Overaggressive brushing can irritate and inflame gum tissue, causing inflammation. Over time, this inflammation can cause gum tissue to recede away from the base of your teeth, and wear away at tooth enamel. As covered previously, holes in tooth enamel allow outside stimuli to cause tooth pain by irritating the nerve of a tooth.

Teeth Grinding

Clinically referred to as bruxism, tooth grinding causes excess stress to be placed on your teeth, eventually causing the enamel to wear away. Often an unconscious habit, tooth grinding generally occurs as a result of stress or anxiety. If you notice symptoms such as frequent jaw pain, headaches in the morning after waking up, and neck stiffness, you may grind your teeth at night. Consult with Dr. da Costa about potential treatment methods if you suffer from bruxism.

If you have any other questions about the causes of tooth sensitivity, feel free to ask Dr. da Costa or any member of his knowledgeable staff during your next appointment.