Tooth sensitivity is tooth discomfort that is triggered by cold, hot, sweet or sour foods and drinks, or even by taking in cold air. The pain can be sudden, sharp and can shoot deep into the dental pulp.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Sensitive teeth occur when the underlying teeth layer, the dentin, becomes exposed as a result of receding gum tissue. The roots that are not covered by enamel contain several small tubules that lead to the tooth pulp. These small tubules trigger the pain stimuli – for instance, when you take cold, hot, sweet or sour food, on reaching the nerve endings of the tooth this results in pain.
There are several factors that lead to teeth sensitivity. They include:
- Vigorous brushing – Brushing vigorously or using hard bristled toothbrush can scrape away enamel, exposing the dentin. It may lead to recession of the gums.
- Tooth decay around the gumline
- Gum recession – Conditions like periodontal disease pull away the tooth from the gum, thus exposing the root surface.
- Gum disease – Sore and inflamed gum tissue can cause sensitivity due to the loss of supporting tissues that expose the root surface which directly leads to the nerves.
- Cracked teeth – Broken or cracked teeth are filled with bacteria from plaque which enter into pulp causing inflammation.
- Teeth grinding – Clenching or grinding the teeth may wear down the enamel, exposing the dentin.
- Tooth products – Tooth whitening products, certain over the counter mouthwashes can be major contributors to teeth sensitivity.
- Age – This is also a contributing factor for tooth sensitivity. People of ages 25 – 30 are at greater risk.
- Plaque – The presence of plaque on root surfaces can also lead to sensitivity.
- Acidic foods – Regular consumption of high acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, pickles and tea can scrape away the enamel leading to sensitivity.
- Frequent Dental procedures – Teeth sensitivity can occur followed by dental procedures like teeth cleaning, crown placement, tooth restoration and root planning. However, this tooth sensitivity will disappear within 4 – 6 weeks.
Care / Prevention of Tooth Sensitivity
Oral hygiene – Follow proper brushing and flossing techniques to maintain your teeth and mouth clean.
Toothbrush – Use a soft bristled toothbrush to avoid any abrasion to the tooth surface or irritation to the gums. Brush carefully around the gum line to avoid harm to gum tissue.
Toothpaste – There are various brands of toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Always use desensitizing toothpaste, try various brands and find out which works best for you.
Be aware of what you eat – High consumption of acid containing foods can dissolve the enamel, exposing the dentin. This can aggravate the sensitivity and begin the pain.
Fluorine dental products – Use fluorinated mouthwash everyday as this greatly helps in reducing teeth sensitivity.
Avoid teeth grinding – Try to control the habit of teeth grinding during night. Instead use a mouth guard to protect your teeth.
Dental procedures – Certain dental procedures can help in reducing the tooth sensitivity. They include fluoride varnishes, white fillings and dentin sealers.