Why Do Sound Vibrations Hurt My Teeth?

Aerial view of a brown guitar on a stack of Native American blankets

It’s fairly easy to understand why listening to or playing loud music can hurt your ears, but what about your teeth? If you feel pain and sensitivity in your teeth when you hear certain sound vibrations, read on to discover why!

Sound & Tooth Sensitivity

Beyond your tooth’s protective enamel, the dentin layer of your teeth is filled with thousands of water-filled tubes connected to the inner pulp, a collection of soft tissue made up of nerves and capillaries that are sensitive to pressure. Pressure is perceived by your pulp’s nerves, and depending on the thickness of your enamel, your brain can interpret varying degrees of pressure as pain. Sound is a longitudinal pressure wave of a repeating pattern of high-pressure and low-pressure areas caused by particles that vibrate back and forth. This vibration transmits sound energy from one place to another within a solid, liquid, or gas (like air). If your teeth are particularly sensitive, the fluctuating pressure from sound waves can actually cause the water-filled tubes in your teeth to vibrate, especially at high-frequencies, and painfully irritate your pulp’s nerves.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

While many people notice tooth sensitivity when they consume foods and beverages that are very hot or cold, or even in extreme weather, it’s more rare to experience tooth sensitivity due to sound vibrations. However, it does happen! General tooth sensitivity can be caused by a number of things, including:

  1. Using an Alcohol-Based Mouthwash
  2. Mouthwashes with alcohol and other chemicals may be doing more harm than good to your smile. Try an alcohol-free anti-gingivitis/anti-plaque mouthwash to combat sensitivity.

  3. Vigorous Brushing
  4. Brushing too hard can lead to receding gum lines and tooth sensitivity. Adjust your force and invest in a toothbrush with very soft bristles, or an electric toothbrush, to protect your enamel.

  5. Grinding or Clenching Your Teeth
  6. If you are guilty of grinding your teeth at night, your teeth are likely more sensitive due to enamel damage. Wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard while you sleep will prevent further damage and decrease sensitivity.

  7. Decay & Infection
  8. Tooth sensitivity can indicate a deep cavity or an infected inner pulp. Especially if your sensitivity is accompanied by a persistent toothache, come see us so we can preserve your natural tooth!

  9. Gum Disease
  10. You may be experiencing sensitivity due to a more serious gum issue. If gums separate from teeth, the most fragile portion of your tooth is exposed to bacteria, causing sensitivity. If you have receding gums or pockets around your teeth, notify us as soon as possible! Untreated gum disease can lead to bone loss and eventual tooth loss.

How to Combat Sound-Related Tooth Sensitivity

Stop by our Long Island City dental office so we can get to the root cause of your tooth sensitivity, whether it is from decay, a tooth infection, underlying gum disease, or even a sinus infection. Our talented Dr. Nguyen plays guitar in his spare time, and can approach your treatment with a unique knowledge of how sound waves and dentistry interact. Contact our dentist in Long Island City to schedule an appointment today for a pain-free, beautiful smile!

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