Tooth sensitivity also know as dentin hypersensitivity or root sensitivity. If hot, cold, sweet or very acidic foods or even breathing in cold air, makes your teeth sensitive or painful, then you may have tooth sensitivity.
Why does Tooth Sensitivity Happen?
Tooth sensitivity is usually caused by dentin or root areas that are exposed. The 2 most common reasons for sensitivity are receded gums and wear. The tooth has 3 layers. The hard outer surface is called enamel, the second porous layer is called dentin and the inner layer is the nerve of the tooth. Vigourous brushing or using a very abrasive toothpaste can cause abrasion of the tooth's enamel surface and expose dentin. A very acidic diet – for example a diet with a lot of citrus food, pickles or soft drinks can cause tooth erosion and dissolve the tooth surface, exposing the dentin.
What Makes Exposed Dentin Painful?
Dentin contains many tubules that are only visible with a microscope. These channels run from the surface, through the dentin to the nerve portion of the tooth, also know as the pulp. These channels contain fluid and after eating or drinking, the fluid in these tiny tubules irritates the nerves in the tooth, causing pain.
Can I Prevent Tooth Sensitivity?
The most important factor in reducing your chances of having tooth sensitivity is keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible with good oral hygiene to help prevent receding gums and periodontal disease. Brushing and flossing properly, as recommended by your DENTAL TEAM, can help reduce the chance of tooth sensitivity. A low acid diet can also help prevent tooth sensitivity. Ignoring your sensitive teeth can lead to other oral health problems, especially if the pain causes poor brushing habits, which can then increase the risk of tooth decay and gum and bone disease.
What Can I Do if I Have Sensitive Teeth?
First tell your dental TEAM. They can help, evaluate and see what the best treatment is for you. They also may recommend that you use a low abrasion toothpaste made for sensitive teeth also known as a desensitizing toothpaste. These toothpastes help decrease the sensitivity if you brush twice a day, and they also contain fluoride to help protect your teeth against decay. Alternatively, your dentist may prescribe a brush-on fluoride gel, a fluoride rinse, or a high level fluoride toothpaste that is specially formulated to make your teeth less sensitive and provide extra protection against tooth decay and sensitivity. Other treatments for sensitive teeth that your dental TEAM can provide in the dental office are also available. These include treatments that are painted onto the teeth — such as fluoride varnishes.