Patients who deal with tooth sensitivity usually experience an unpleasant “zinging” sensation when teeth are exposed to sweet, cold or hot foods and beverages. Although there can be many reasons for this dental discomfort, quite often the onset of gum disease is of primary concern.
Causes can include:
- Brushing with too firm a tooth brush with excessive pressure can result in gum erosion exposing sensitive dentition. If the damage has been done, avoid using abrasive tooth pastes or gels (contained in many teeth whitening brushing products); opt for a product intended for sensitive teeth. There are also rinses available to help with this problem.
- Dental decay – when the dental enamel experiences a breach whether it is due to a cavity, fractured tooth or hairline crack or chip, it does not have to be very big to result in discomfort.
- Infection – a tooth can become infected that starts out as sensitivity, but can advance to severe discomfort in a very short amount of time.
- Gum disease – Gingivitis, or its more advanced condition, periodontitis can impact one, several or all of your teeth. There are usually many clues that gum disease is the problem including:
- Bleeding gum tissue (not as a result from brushing too hard)
- Swollen and/or inflamed gums (healthy gum tissue is firm and pink)
- Teeth feel loose or gum tissue appears to be separating from teeth
- Bad breath is chronic (not as a result from strong foods or beverages)
The opposite is true as well. Your periodontist can identify gum disease without many of the obvious symptoms. In fact, even the most vigilant patients that brush and floss daily and see their dentist twice per year for cleaning and exams can develop gum disease. Sometimes we can blame our ancestors for our periodontal condition.
Treating gum disease is an important link to being able to keep your biological teeth. Patients that ignore the warning signs may be facing teeth extraction and costly, time consuming dental prosthetics all of which may have been prevented.
Daily flossing to help prevent plaque build-up; brushing at least twice per day with tooth paste or gel; using a fluoride rinse or paste if recommended by your dental provider; and visiting your dentist twice per year for cleaning and exam will help to keep teeth and gum tissue healthy.