Sensitive teeth normally occur when the enamel on the outside of the tooth wears away exposing the dentin layer of the tooth. The dentin layer is very porous with tubes that run to the nerve centre.
Although each mouth is different, having sensitive teeth is a common occurrence. This sensitivity can occur when exposing your teeth to something hotter (or colder) than normal, something sweeter (or sourer) than normal, or if you have deep cavities or exposed root surfaces.
What causes tooth sensitivity?
The discomfort a patient undergoing orthodontic treatment experiences is due to the pressure that is placed on your teeth by the braces. This level of discomfort varies from patient to patient. The sensitivity will only last a few days and is in no way permanent.
At Angel Orthodontics, we educate our patients on how to reduce this sensitivity to enhance a more pleasant orthodontic treatment experience. Below are some common causes of tooth sensitivity, whether you are wearing braces or not:
One of the causes of sensitivity is thinning tooth enamel. This is due to poor brushing habits or improper dental hygiene. Failure to remove plaque and build-up can break down the enamel which protects your teeth. This can weaken your teeth, leaving them exposed and more susceptible to sensitivity.
If you are brushing too firmly, you can start to wear down gum tissue, exposing porous root surfaces and portions of the tooth that are not normally exposed. This ‘fresh’ surface can be extremely sensitive and give an overwhelming sense of pain when exposed.
Over-brushing is the most common cause of tooth sensitivity. You will soon brush away your gum line if you brush your teeth too vigorously with tough bristles. Porous root surfaces are exposed as your gum line recedes, which may cause some of your teeth to become extremely sensitive. Gum recession occurs over time in older patients as a result of the natural aging process. Brushing with a soft brush in an up and down motion, as opposed to horizontally, can help reduce your risk of developing sensitive teeth.
Tooth sensitivity can result from improper brushing or improper dental hygiene while wearing braces. This happens when you fail to remove plaque and build-up. Plaque causes your teeth to weaken, leaving them at a greater risk for sensitivity.
Another contributing factor to sensitivity is the grinding of teeth. To help prevent the wearing down of enamel, try wearing a mouth guard at night while you sleep.
Eating lots of acidic foods such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, wine, coffee, and sour citrus fruits and candy is another contributor. Rinse your mouth with water right after having acidic foods or drinks to dilute the acid.
Will braces impact my tooth sensitivity?
The pre-existence of tooth sensitivity can be an enormous concern for those contemplating braces. Braces put pressure on the teeth and gums, which may exacerbate any pain or existing sensitivity, but they must in order to effectively shift the teeth and obtain a perfect smile.
Fortunately, this type of sensitivity is a short lived result, occurring only as teeth and gums begin to accommodate the adjustment process. While it is normal for braces to cause some minor tooth sensitivity, they should not result in extreme or ongoing discomfort. If your teeth feel particularly sensitive while wearing braces, it is likely to be caused by one of the reasons outlined above.
For patients with braces, it is very important to practice proper dental hygiene because food can easily get trapped between your teeth and braces, and when that happens bacteria can settle, resulting in decay. This makes you more susceptible to tooth sensitivity.