Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
“Why are My Teeth Sensitive to Hot and Cold?”
Tooth sensitivity is the simple term commonly used to refer to root sensitivity or dentin hypersensitivity. Having sensitive teeth means cold, hot, sweet, highly acidic drinks and foods or even breathing cold air will cause your teeth to feel painful or sensitive. This problem is very common but fortunately it is treatable.
Tooth sensitivity develops when the enamel, which protects our teeth, becomes thinner or when our gums recede. This exposes dentin, which is the underlying surface-therefore weakening the protection that the gums and the enamel give to the root and tooth. Dentin, the material found in the inner tooth, is composed of tiny tubules which contain microscopic nerve endings.
A hard outer coating of enamel covers the dentine in the crown section of the tooth.
The dentine in the root of the tooth is protected by a layer of thin bony material called the cementum. Nerve irritation or dentin hypersensitivity is the result when dentin loses this protective coating of cementum or enamel. As a result the stimulated hypersensitive nerve endings become inflamed, painful and sensitive when exposed to cold, hot, sticky, acidic foods and drinks or even cold air making your teeth sensitive to hot and cold.
Below are some causes of tooth sensitivity:
•Toothbrush abrasion-refers to brushing teeth too hard, especially when using side to side motion. This leads to wearing away of the enamel particularly in the sections where teeth and gums meet. The newly exposed dentine becomes sensitive.
•Dental erosion– this refers to degradation of the tooth enamel due to acid attacks from acidic drinks and food.The worn enamel leads to dentine exposure, resulting in teeth sensitivity.
•Natural gum recession-this is when our gums recede or shrink back naturally, leaving the roots of the teeth exposed. The roots are therefore left with no protection, resulting in teeth sensitivity.
•Gum disease– Accumulation of tartar or plaque can result in the gum receding downward and this may even damage the bony material that supports the tooth. Pockets may also develop in the gums surrounding the tooth,rendering such sections hard to clean properly and worsening the problem.Occasionally heat sensitivity may indicate that the tooth is infected by bacteria inside.These bacteria may enter through a cavity, a crack or a leaking dental crown or filling.Bacteria emit gas as part of their natural processes.Exposing such a tooth to heat makes the gas which is trapped inside the hollow tooth interior to heat up. Expansion of this heated gas applies pressure to the hypersensitive nerve tissue, causing sensitivity and pain
•Tooth grinding– This habit involves grinding and clenching teeth together.This leads to the wearing down of the tooth enamel which causes the sensitive nerves in the dentin to be inflamed,leading to tooth sensitivity. The answer to this problem is to wear a dental night guard. You can wear a daytime and/or nighttime guard. For more information on dental night guards and online ordering click here
•A filling or cracked tooth-a cracked tooth is one which is broken. A crack may begin from the biting area of the tooth and continue downwards to the root. Severe temperatures, particularly cold may bring immense discomfort.
•Tooth bleaching– There are people who briefly experience tooth sensitivity during or after the bleaching procedure.
“How can I make my teeth less sensitive to hot and cold?”
Tooth sensitivity can be reduced in several ways.
• Brushing thoroughly with low-abrasion toothpaste is one way
•Flossing daily is another way since this will eliminate plaque between gums and teeth
•Reducing intake of highly acidic food and drinks will also prevent this problem.