Millions of people suffer from tooth sensitivity at some point in their life. Typically tooth sensitivity comes in the form of tooth pain in reaction to hot or cold sensations. Tooth sensitivity has many causes, and some of these are more easily fixed than others. Tooth sensitivity can also be an indication of a more serious dental problem or condition. What follows are the basics that you should know about having sensitive teeth.
It is important to have an understanding of how teeth are constructed. The hard, shiny outer layer of your teeth is called enamel. Enamel functions to protect the softer, porous layer below, called dentin. On the part of your tooth that is rooted below the gumline, the dentin is protected by a thin, hard layer called cementum. Inside the center of your tooth lies the root canal, which is filled with a substance called pulp, which is made up of nerves & blood vessels.
Tooth pain or sensitivity occurs when dentin is somehow exposed & heat or cold is able to penetrate through it & irritate the nerve of your tooth.
Dentin can become exposed when there is a wearing away of enamel & cementum, along with receding gums.
There are a few ways that enamel can be worn away:
- Build up of bacteria from poor oral hygiene can cause enamel erosion & decay.
- Brushing with a hard bristle brush, or brushing too hard, can also wear away at enamel.
- Excessive eating or drinking highly acidic foods such as soft drinks or energy drinks.
- Nighttime teeth grinding can also erode enamel.
Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by a crack or a cavity in your tooth that you may not know is there. If you have intense sensitivity that persists for multiple days, make an appointment with The Dentist’s Office in Fallon, Nevada, or Fernley, Nevada as soon as you can so we can look for decay or damage.
Old fillings that may have become loose or developed tooth decay around them can also contribute to tooth sensitivity. Fluids can get under & around the filling & irritate the nerve through the dentin. If you find that a tooth with a filling has become extra sensitive, schedule a checkup with our office immediately so we can see if the filling needs to be replaced.
Some people also experience tooth sensitivity after dental procedures, particularly professional teeth whitening or bleaching. People with sensitive teeth can also be irritated by the chemicals present in some tooth-whitening toothpastes.
Tooth sensitivity is also a symptom of gum disease. Gum disease causes your gums to pull away from your teeth, leaving the dentin exposed.
One of the best treatments for sensitive teeth is a change in your oral care routine. If you brush too hard or use a hard bristle toothbrush, try switching to a soft bristle brush & brushing less aggressively. If you experience sensitivity when using a whitening toothpaste, try switching to an anti-sensitivity toothpaste that also contains fluoride, which helps remineralize & strengthen tooth enamel. These changes can decrease your tooth sensitivity over time.
If you still experience a level of sensitivity that causes discomfort, call The Dentist’s Office in Fernley, Nevada, or Fallon, Nevada. We may be able to provide treatments such as topical anti-sensitivity paste, that can help lessen your discomfort.