What causes tooth sensitivity? You may be surprised to find out how tooth sensitivity occurs. First, you need to understand the anatomy of the tooth. The dentin is the layer of tissue that is beneath the hard surface of the tooth, known as the enamel. Think of the tooth in layers: First, you have the outer enamel, then the dentin, and then in the middle there is the pulp. The dentin is the layer of the tooth sandwiched between the hard enamel and the pulp cavity that contains nerves.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
The dentin has tiny tubes that fluid can move through and this results in nerve irritation. The tiny tubes become exposed when gums have receded or the hard enamel becomes worn down. This results in pain from eating or drinking hot or cold foods and beverages. Sometimes even touching your teeth or having your teeth exposed to cold air can cause irritation.
Reduce Tooth Sensitivity
Foods that are high in acid, such as citrus juices and soft drinks, can also affect people with sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is among the most common complaints to dentists, and there is an estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. who suffer from tooth sensitivity at some point in their life.
You may be familiar with toothpaste targeted for those with sensitive teeth. Using a toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth can help over time. In addition to this, there are other things that you can do to not only help deal with sensitive teeth now, but to avoid having a more sensitivity later as well.
- Some toothpastes have abrasive ingredients such as in whitening toothpastes. This can increase tooth sensitivity.
- Using a desensitizing toothpaste regularly will help over time.
- A dentist can apply desensitizing materials to your tooth, including sealants, filling materials, fluoride, or other desensitizing materials.
- Avoid drinking soft drinks throughout the day, as this can add to the problem of tooth sensitivity.
- Avoid hard-bristled toothbrushes or brushing your teeth too vigorously or with too much pressure. This can wear down the enamel and expose sensitive spots.
Keep in mind that desensitizing toothpaste may take about a month before you notice a difference in your sensitivity. The desensitizing ingredient in these toothpastes protect the exposed parts of the dentin and block the tubes connected to the nerves in the pulp, and it takes about a month of regular use for the product to build up and work effectively.
If you experience highly sensitive teeth for three or four days, it is best to see a dentist at Carolina Smiles Family Dentistry rather than trying to deal with the problem on your own. It may be necessary to have a dentist diagnose the problem rather than trying to heal your tooth sensitivity on your own.
At Carolina Smiles Family Dentistry, we are dedicated to getting your teeth healthy! If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity to the cold, make an appointment with us for a dental check up.