How to Identify if You Have Sensitive Teeth

Three Methods:Sensing the PainExamining Your Teeth VisuallyDetermining Exterior Factors

Are you starting to feel sudden discomfort in your teeth? Have you had the pain for three to four days[1], or even a few weeks?[2] You probably have sensitive teeth. It might be about time to go visit the dentist; but before you do, a few quick checks can help identify sensitive teeth.

Method 1
Sensing the Pain

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    Eat something cold. Pick something mild to start. Eventually the colder temperatures may find a way through your tooth's enamel down to the dentin, cause some pain, and magnify the teeth sensitivity.
    • Try some ice cream as a starting point to see if the temperature affects you.
    • Chomp a popsicle, something dense enough for a hard bite, for a great next step.
    • Consider something harder, like ice chips, a texture that will definitely be cold long enough to test for issues.
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    Drink a hot beverage like coffee or tea. Hot foods cause tooth pain because they heat the gasses produced by bacteria in the teeth. When heated, gasses expand and create pressure, causing internal tooth pain.
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    Sip a sweet or sugary beverage. The sugars in the drinks contact the dentin and the result is a fluid loss in the tooth, a consequential pressure change, and then a sharp pain. [3][4] The same painful osmosis process can be caused by juicy, acidic fruits. You could also try chocolate, which can melt between your teeth and stimulate nerves inside your dentin.
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    Breathe in some cold air. If you wince when breathing in sharply, your problem could be sensitive teeth. The air, particularly through pursed lips, is colder and might be shooting through the microscopic tubes in the dentin in your teeth.
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    Tap your teeth together. Gently. When teeth hit sharply against one another, it's possible to feel anything from a mild twinge to agony all the way into the nerve endings because of either direct contact with exposed dentin or forceful vibrations.[5] You do not want to crack or chip your teeth, but when teeth normally collide in the mouth there could be some pain if dentin is exposed.
    • A similar type of pain may appear when a wisdom tooth starts growing and generates force throughout the bone, all the way up to the front teeth.

Method 2
Examining Your Teeth Visually

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    Find any buildup of plaque or tartar on your teeth. Plaque is accumulation of food byproducts and proteins in your mouth, and tartar is hardened plaque. The most common sign of plaque/tartar is a yellow or brown color to teeth or gums, but there are some tests that can be done at home to easily identify plaque buildup.[6]
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    Detect tooth decay. It usually does not cause symptoms until you have a cavity or an infected tooth, but noticeable dark spots or white spots may be tooth decay. When this occurs, a toothache is the most common symptom, but dentists have a variety of high-tech methods, like fluorescent light, magnifying glasses, and intraoral cameras, to find problems.[7]
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    Gander at your gums. Gingivitis is basically redness or swelling of the gums. If left untreated it can turn into periodontal disease, with gums that become infected and pull away from teeth.[8] If this fits you, your teeth may not just be sensitive, but they may also begin to loosen!
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    Check for cavities. Cavities are holes or structural damage in the teeth. There may be no symptoms, as cavities can be quite small. If symptoms occur, however, they may include: Pain, visible pits or holes in the teeth, or bad breath.[9] Those little holes may be asymptomatic now, but could worsen and lead to sensitivity.
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    Examine your fillings to identify any potential problems. Through biting and chewing actions, old fillings can crack at varying times. Look for a darker circle surrounding the filling, which is usually the sign of bacterial infiltration. Also look for deep fillings; they may be irritating the tooth's nerve and causing pain. Deep fillings can also cause a crack in the tooth structure that may even break your tooth, if you have a particularly powerful bite.
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    Check for chips. Broken or chipped teeth obviously go beyond decay and can expose pulp - the home of nerves within the teeth beneath enamel and dentin - causing severe pain and sensitivity.[10] Visit the dentist as soon as possible, before the chips/breaks cause significant sensitivity.

Method 3
Determining Exterior Factors

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    Brush your teeth. If you feel your pulse rate quickening, or your bicep flexing, you might be brushing too hard. Enamel is broken down via "toothbrush abrasion" and exposes dentin. If you're brushing vigorously, it could lead to increased tooth sensitivity and receding gums.[11]
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    Stop using whitening/bleaching products. Teeth whitening products often use hydrogen peroxide which wears down the enamel and could penetrate into any existing decay or inner areas of the tooth.[12] Aside from potential pain and sensitivity, whitening does not affect various dental restorations such as crowns or porcelain veneers, which could cause multi-colored teeth, negating any vanity aspects of the procedure.
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    Cease grinding your teeth. Symptoms vary according to the nature, frequency and duration of excessive clenching and grinding. Aside from general sensitivity, grinding can include pain in the teeth, chronic muscular facial pain with tension headaches, flattened tooth surfaces, micro fractures of the tooth enamel, broken or chipped teeth, pain in the jaw joint that cause restricted opening and difficult chewing.[13]
    • If grinding is an old habit, you might usually have an increased development of the masseter and temporal muscles that change the look of your face, making your face seem muscular and always tense.
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    Review your calendar. Post dental treatment sensitivity can be created by inflammation and very subtle movement within and between teeth. If you recently had a procedure done at the dentist, there is a possibility of sensitivity.[14]
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    Diagnose your diet. Acidic foods and drinks (e.g. tomatoes, pickles, fruits, soda) can wear down enamel if consumed regularly and in abundance.[15] They may also be the culprits behind some acid reflux[16], which can also erode enamel.[17]

Tips

  • Careful brushing and flossing will keep your gums healthy.
  • To alleviate over brushing, use a soft or extra soft toothbrush.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene habits; proper hygiene will help keep your gums healthy and will prevent receding.
  • Visit your dentist regularly!

Article Info

Categories: Oral Hygiene | Teeth and Mouth