Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that involves discomfort or pain in teeth when encountering certain substances and temperatures. There are three main causes of tooth sensitivity which are sweet foods (candy, certain fruits, and vegetables), acidic foods (certain fruits, lemon, vinegar, and tomatoes) and hot/cold fruit & drinks (tea, coffee, ice water, and soda).
As you can see on teeth structure on the picture, in healthy teeth enamel protects the underlying layer of dentin, which is softer than enamel. The tooth roots are protected by gums. But if the enamel is worn down or if the gum line recedes by time, then the dentin becomes exposed and dentin is connected to the nerve that triggers pain in sensitive teeth.
Signs & Symptoms :
People with sensitive teeth may experience pain or discomfort as a response to certain triggers. You may feel this pain at the roots of the affected teeth. The most common triggers include:
- Hot foods and beverages
- Cold foods and beverages
- Cold air
- Sweet foods and beverages
- Acidic foods and beverages
- Cold water, especially during routine dental cleanings
- Brushing or flossing teeth
- Alcohol-based mouth rinses
Your symptoms may come and go over time for no obvious reason. They may range from mild to intense.
There are some factors that contribute to sensitive teeth may include :
- Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush. This can wear down enamel, causingdentin to become exposed, or encourage gum recession.
- Gum withdrawal.
- Inflamed and sore gum (Gingivitis)
- Cracked teeth,
- Teeth grinding or clenching,
- Plaque buildup,
- Acidic foods or long-term use of mouthwash. Some over-the-counter mouthwashes contain acids, These can encourage enamel reduction.
- Dental procedures. Teeth may be sensitive after a professional cleaning, root plaining, crown replacement,and other tooth restoration procedures.
The pain is often sharp and sudden, but it is temporary. Sometimes, the pain may shoot into the tooth’s nerve endings. Fortunately, sensitive teeth can be treated and the condition can improve.
You can find below information about prevention
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day. Consider using toothpaste specially designed for sensitive teeth. Use small, circular movements with a soft-to medium-bristled brush. Try to avoid brushing your teeth from side to side.
- Change your toothbrush every two to three months, or sooner if it becomes worn.
- Don’t brush straight after eating – some foods and drinks can soften the enamel of your teeth, so leave it for at least an hour before you brush.
- Have sugary foods, and fizzy and acidic drinks, less often. Try to have them just at mealtimes.
- If you grind your teeth, talk to your dental team about whether you should have a mouthguard made, to wear at night.
- If you are thinking about having your teeth bleached, discuss sensitivity with your dental team before starting treatment.
- Visit your dental team regularly, as often as they recommend.