Sensitive teeth is a common dental problem affecting a large number of people. Sensitive teeth can be described as pain or discomfort felt when taking hot or cold food/drinks. There are many factors that contribute to tooth/teeth sensitivity. In this article, we will discuss the causes, treatment and prevention of sensitive teeth.
The enamel is the outer layer of teeth. It is the hardest and protective layer of the teeth. When this layer becomes thin especially under gumline, the dentin gets exposed. Dentin has small channels that links the nerve of the tooth. So when the dentin is exposed, the nerves associated with the teeth get easily stimulated causing pain and discomfort.
Causes of tooth sensitivity
- Vigorous brushing: Brushing too hard especially with hard bristled toothbrush can damage your tooth/teeth enamel (shiny and protective layer of the teeth) and exposes dentin (next layer of teeth). Brushing too hard can also cause receding gums (gums pull away from the teeth).
- Acidic foods/drinks: Acidic foods/drinks can lead to erosion of tooth enamel making the next layer of teeth dentin exposed.
- Teeth grinding: Grinding teeth can also cause tooth enamel to erode.
- Fractured/cracked teeth: If any of your tooth is chipped, cracked or fractured, bacteria can easily set in that causes inflammation and tenderness of gums, eventually leading to sensitivity of teeth.
- Receding gums: Receding gums is the condition where teeth gets pulled away from gums which is often caused by gum disease. This exposes dentine and causes tooth sensitivity.
- Teeth whitening products: Some toothpastes contain teeth whitening chemicals and many people are sensitive to them that can be the major factor for making teeth sensitive.
- If recently undergone any dental treatment: Your may feel sensitivity may also felt when you have recently undergone a dental treatment like scaling, root canal treatment etc. But this is temporary and will disappear with 2-3 days.
Prevention of tooth sensitivity
- Maintaining good oral hygiene: This involves regular brushing and flossing. It is advised to brush twice a day or even after every meal is a good practice of oral hygiene. Floss at least once daily. If you follow this regularly, there is less chances of plaque build up, thus preventing teeth sensitivity.
- Using toothbrush that has soft bristles: Use a soft bristled toothbrush preferably that is suitable for sensitive teeth.
- Avoid crunching and grinding teeth: Crunching can actually fracture or crack your tooth/teeth that becomes prone to sensitivity.
- Many people have teeth grinding habit which can damage the teeth enamel. Ask your dentist about the mouth guard that help prevent teeth grinding.
- Diet: Avoid consuming acidic food/drinks that will dissolve the tooth enamel.
- Visiting the dentist regularly: Visit the dentist every six months and get your teeth professionally cleaned. Your dentist will give you tips on how to maintain or practice good oral hygiene.