Do you have sensitive teeth? If hot, cold, sweet or very acidic foods and drinks, or breathing in cold air, makes your teeth hurt, then you may have tooth sensitivity.
For some people it might just be one tooth that is a little sensitive rather than several painful teeth.
“Sensitive” is a pretty weak word for the sharp, shooting pain that people experience.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
In a healthy tooth, enamel is the protective layer on the outside. Under the enamel is a layer called cementum that protects the dentin. Dentin protects the pulp and roots of the tooth.
Dentin contains thousands of microscopic tubules, or channels, leading to the tooth’s pulp, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. When exposed to the elements, these dentinal tubules allow heat, cold, acidic or even sticky substances to reach the nerves inside the tooth, causing pain.
In the area of the tooth where enamel is not present, the tooth roots are protected by the gums.
If the enamel is worn down or if the gum line has receded, the dentin becomes exposed to the elements or the food you eat.
External triggers like a cold drink can stimulate the nerves inside the tooth, resulting in the typical short, sharp pain of tooth sensitivity.
10 Biggest Causes Of Sensitive Teeth
- Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down the enamel, causing the cementum to wear down and exposing the dentin.
Brushing too hard can also encourage gum recession, which can expose the dentin.
- Receding gums can happen due to periodontal disease (gum disease) or brushing too hard. This exposes the dentin, leading to sensitive teeth. Receded gums are very common and up to four fifths of people have gum recession by the time they are 65.
- Gingivitis or inflamed and sore gum tissue can leave the tooth’s root exposed.
- Chipped or cracked teeth can become filled with bacteria from plaque. This can lead to inflammation in the pulp region of the tooth. Infection in this area can lead to abscess and infection.
- Teeth grinding or clenching can wear down the enamel, exposing dentin.
- Plaque buildup can lead to infection in the tooth or gums, leading to exposed dentin and roots of the tooth.
- Long term use of mouthwash can be harmful in some cases. If the mouthwash contains acids, it could eventually eat its way through the enamel and reach the dentin.
- Acidic foods can encourage enamel reduction.
- Dental procedures like professional cleaning, root planning, crown replacement and other tooth restoration procedures can cause temporary teeth sensitivity. Or sometimes you can have tooth sensitivity after root canal.
- Tooth fillings performed due to injury or cosmetic dentistry purposes can sometimes cause sudden tooth sensitivity or leave your teeth sensitive when biting down. This can usually be fixed by adjusting the bite or replacing the filling with another composite.
Only a dentist can confirm you have dentin hypersensitivity. They will know how to treat sensitive teeth. If you are experiencing any dental problems, always consult your dentist for advice.
Our dentists will show you how to relieve sensitive teeth when a tooth sensitive to hot and cold is causing pain. If the condition is not too serious they will also recommend off-the-shelf tooth sensitivity products for sensitive teeth, teach you how to fix a sensitive tooth, or simple home remedies for sensitive teeth.
If you have dentin hypersensitivity, you can help minimize further exposure of the dentin, care for your sensitive teeth and relieve the painful symptoms by making some simple changes to your daily oral care routine and dietary habits.
If you have a tooth sensitive to cold or you think you have tooth sensitivity in general, book an appointment with our dentist for a thorough checkup.
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