If you find yourself avoiding hot drinks and cold foods, then your teeth may be sensitive. Tooth sensitivity is common, and in optimistic terms, will be temporary. But when it’s chronic, it can affect the way you enjoy life. Your dentist can get to the bottom of this painful condition, but it’s essential to know why tooth sensitivity occurs and how you can relieve your sensitive teeth.
What causes sensitive teeth?
Tooth sensitivity involves the wearing down of the protective layers of your teeth. In healthy teeth, the enamel layer protects your teeth’s crown from harmful bacteria and food particles. Underneath the enamel is the cementum and dentin, protecting the tooth’s root and allowing the tooth to hold the tooth’s nerves and pulp inside. When the enamel gets worn down, the dentin becomes highly exposed to temperature changes because of the microscopic tubules. These hollow canals carry sensation from the outside of the tooth to the inside. These tubes transmit sensations from cold, hot, sticky, and acidic. When the dentin is exposed, the nerves inside the pulp become inflamed, causing dentin hypersensitivity.
When a person experiences dentin hypersensitivity, various conditions can cause this to occur. Most often, these causes include:
- Tooth Erosion: Also called acid erosion, this condition occurs when the teeth are consistently exposed to acids. Intrinsic stomach acids or extrinsic acids from food and drink can cause the tooth’s enamel to soften over time, and even if the teeth are clean and healthy, acid erosion can still play an effect on tooth sensitivity.
- Tooth Decay: Like tooth erosion, tooth decay is primarily caused by plaque-build up, a sticky substance that contains bacteria and food particles. Plaque can cause enamel to wear down over time because of how the bacteria bind to saliva, especially if a person has poor oral hygiene habits, and cause cavities to form. These cavities also cause tooth sensitivity.
- Gum recession: Periodontal disease often causes the gums to erode due to the harmful bacteria present within the mouth. If this disease progresses to the point when the root is exposed, the tooth can also be exposed to temperature sensitivity.
- Bruxism: Tooth grinding at night can cause dentin hypersensitivity. When a person grins their teeth during sleep, the enamel gets worn down, causing the dentin to be exposed.
- Post-Dental Treatment: Sometimes, after the installment of a crown or inlay, the tooth can become sensitive due to the intensity of the treatment.
How do dentists treat tooth sensitivity?
Because of the highly complex problems with tooth sensitivity, many factors can come into play, including age, gender, diet, and medical history. It’s essential to seek a dentist that can provide immediate relief for your dentin hypersensitivity and provide long-term treatment plans if they’re unable to remove the problem. Your dentist may prescribe sensitive toothpaste and soft toothbrushes to help treat your sensitivity and provide other treatments such as mouth guards and restorative treatments for removing your sensitivity for long, happy life.For more questions regarding tooth sensitivity, please contact your primary dentists and schedule an appointment with them today.