IT'S PURE ENJOYMENT to sip a cozy mug of hot cocoa until every sip comes with a sharp jolt of pain due to sensitive teeth. Don't worry; you're not alone with an eighth of the U.S. population (including kids!) who deal with some level of tooth sensitivity. So how can we protect our teeth, and what causes it?
Nerves of The Tooth
A healthy tooth consists of a protective outer enamel layer over a more porous dentin layer, with a pulp chamber at the center. The dental pulp comprises nerves and blood vessels. Those nerves have thousands of microscopic tubules running through the dentin that receive sensory input for things like temperature changes and pressure.
When Sensory Input Works Against Us
Enamel erosion is one of the leading causes of tooth sensitivity. If the protective enamel layer wears down, it exposes the tubules within the dentin, suddenly stimulating the nerves more than they like. This gives the nerves a nasty shock when anything too hot or cold, sometimes even anything too sweet or sour, comes in contact with them.
What Causes Sensitivity?
When the root of a tooth is exposed through gum recession, it no longer has the enamel protecting, which doesn't have enamel protecting it the way the crown does. It can become very sensitive if overbrushing, teeth grinding, or gum disease leaves the root exposed. Cavities and tooth injuries can also cause sensitivity because they weaken the tooth's structure and, in other ways, compromise the enamel.
How to Protect Your Teeth
Fortunately, there are a few ways to prevent and fight back against tooth sensitivity. It doesn't take stiff bristles to clean our teeth effectively, so make sure to brush with a soft-bristled brush to prevent further enamel erosion or gum recession. Using special toothpaste formulated for special teeth is another way to combat the effects of sensitivity. It will also help to avoid acidic and sugary foods and drinks — such as soda.
Get Help From Your Dentist
Don't suffer from tooth sensitivity in silence; make sure to tell your dentist! They can determine the "root" issue and offer solutions, including a prescription for a desensitizing toothpaste, a fluoride varnish to strengthen tooth enamel, or even a dental restoration or gum graft to cover exposed roots in more severe cases.
Thank you for being part of our Winyah Dental Group!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.