Dr. Michael Huang, DDS
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Causes of Oral Sensitivity

June 15, 2016
Posted By: Michael Huang
Yong woman with a toothache

Does a nice sip of ice cold water on a hot day send pain shooting through your jaw? If you bite into a candy bar with the wrong tooth, will you experience a sharp, throbbing pain that seems to travel all the way to your brain? When you brush your teeth, do you have that one spot you try to avoid, because touching it, or even breathing in cold air, causes it to throb in pain?

Many people suffer from sensitive teeth, which typically result from the exposure of tiny tubes located in the dentin layer, under the enamel. The exposure may happen due to an erosion of the enamel or a receding gum line. Many patients suffer from sensitivity due to a cracked or broken tooth.

Dr. Michael Huang will perform a thorough examination of your teeth and gums to determine the cause of your oral sensitivity, and recommend an appropriate treatment.

To learn more about the causes and prevention of sensitive teeth, call our Covina, CA, dental office today at (626) 332-1014 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Huang.

Periodontal Disease

Patients who have periodontal diseases, or gum disease, will experience a separation of their gums from their teeth. This separation forms pockets where bacteria gather and cause infection. If not treated in a timely manner, the disease can progress to the point where the tissue and bone surrounding the teeth are destroyed, leaving the roots of the teeth exposed.

When the tooth roots become exposed, acidic or sticky foods and changes in temperature stimulate the nerves in the tooth, causing discomfort and hypersensitivity. This explains why patients feel discomfort when eating or drinking very hot or very cold items, or even breathing cold air in through the mouth.

Attending regular dental checkups and cleanings will help protect against gum disease, and if caught in its earliest stage, called gingivitis, Dr. Huang can easily treat the disease through a deep cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing.

For this procedure, the doctor uses a hook-shaped scraper, called a scaler, to scrape the hardened plaque from beneath the gum line. Root planing involves the smoothing of the tooth’s roots to prevent bacteria from gathering there.

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Many patients who grind their teeth do not even realize they do it. Bruxism typically affects patients when they sleep, causing them to wake up with a headache or a sore jaw in the morning.

Bruxism can cause the enamel, the strongest substance in your body, to wear away, exposing the dentin layer of the teeth. Once the dentin layer is exposed, the nerves become stimulated by heat and cold, causing the patient discomfort.

Bruxism tends to occur in patients who experience a great amount of stress. Children often have issues with bruxism, with many using it as a coping mechanism, but typically grow out of it. Some doctors will suggest relaxation techniques, and may even recommend muscle relaxers for adult patients at bedtime to help minimize grinding.

Adults with bruxism problems should talk to Dr. Huang about a mouth guard. The doctor can create a custom-fit night guard that keeps the patient’s teeth from coming together while they sleep, eliminating the grinding habit.

Brushing Improperly

Many patients find it hard to believe that they have a problem, because they consistently brush their teeth twice a day, every day, like they were taught. For these patients, the problem typically involves how they brush.

Brushing too soon after a meal can actually damage teeth. The acids from the food just eaten can weaken the enamel, leaving it vulnerable to damage. Most dentists suggest waiting a minimum of 30 minutes after a meal before brushing to allow the saliva to neutralize the acids.

Brushing too hard can damage the teeth as well. Using too much pressure when brushing wears away the enamel layer over time, exposing the nerves that lead to tooth sensitivity. Using a toothbrush with hard bristles can have the same effect. Dr. Huang recommends using a toothbrush with soft bristles and brushing gently to keep teeth healthy and clean without damaging them.

Call Our Office Today

To learn more about the causes of tooth sensitivity and how to prevent it, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Huang, call our Covina, CA, dental office today at (626) 332-1014.

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