What causes tooth sensitivity or sensitive teeth? Most frequently it’s dentin exposure.
Dentin is the primary substance of your tooth, which surrounds the pulp and contains small pores that lead directly to your tooth’s nerve. It’s covered by enamel over the part you see. And your gums and cementum cover the rest, the part you shouldn’t see under healthy conditions.
So, tooth sensitivity very often occurs because your gums recede, cementum is gone or enamel wears away. Any one of these loses can cause your teeth to really hurt.
Tooth sensitivity might best be described as a sharp, sudden, shooting pain. This hurt from sensitive teeth is felt deep into the nerve endings. For which you may endure the pain constantly or just intermittently.
Cold and heat generally cause a tooth sensitivity encounter, even breathing in cold air can make you cringe. However, a sweet and sour food or drink might trigger this excruciating rush of hurt as well.
Why cold and heat cause such a painful response is because when dentin is exposed, the nerves in your teeth are more accessible. Because sudden temperature changes can potentially cause tissue damage, nerve cell receptors unleash a cascade of neurotransmitters relaying a pain message to your brain.
Your brain responds by pulling back, like when you touch a hot stove. But with tooth sensitivity, you’ll likely cringe for a second and refrain from subjecting your teeth to the temperature change again. For instance, you may wait until the foodstuff that caused your hurt gets closer to room temperature.
One of the primary explanations for what causes sensitive teeth involves tooth brushing. Either you’re brushing too hard or the toothbrush you’re using is too hard. Both cause gum tissue removal and enamel wear, culminating in nerve accessibility via dentin exposure.
Some other factors that contribute to cold and heat sensitivity are:
- cracked teeth
- broken, chipped, fractured tooth
- enamel erosion from acidic foods
- aging ~ enamel naturally wears down
- long term use of mouthwashes containing acid
- temporary sensitivity following certain dental work
- dehydration ~ diuretics, alcohol, caffeinated drinks
- gum recession caused by periodontal disease, gingivitis
- insufficient saliva flow to neutralize bacterial or food acids
- tooth whitening products containing baking soda & peroxide
- tooth whitening procedures ~ usually cause teeth to only hurt temporarily
One of the keys to preventing tooth sensitivity is maintaining gum health.
Once you’re already experiencing the hurt from tooth sensitivity, then sensitive teeth pain treatment starts by using a softer toothbrush and brushing your teeth gently for 2-3 minutes regularly. Another way to treat the pain of sensitive teeth is using toothpaste specifically formulated for this sensitivity.
Why sensitive teeth toothpaste works is because it covers and diffuses into your open little pores, essentially blocking the cold and heat sensation from reaching your teeth’s nerves. You may need to use this treatment for a couple of months before noticing any real reduction in the level of painful sensitivity.
Here’s a few other sensitive teeth pain treatment practices you might experiment with:
- use a fluoride mouth rinse or gel
- don’t use a tartar control toothpaste
- avoid very cold & hot foods or drinks
- use teeth guard for nighttime grinding, clenching issues
- avoid highly acidic foods ~ citrus, tomatoes, sodas, pickles
- spread & leave on a thin layer of desensitizing toothpaste on teeth before bed
And whenever you eat sticky sugary or acidic foods, immediate follow it up by chewing sugarless gum to stimulate your saliva. Saliva naturally combats their effects on tooth health. No brushing, it’ll just spread your cause for hurt around.
If you continue to hurt after giving these sensitive teeth treatments a whirl, then get with a dentist. They’ve got specialized techniques that terminate the pain of pearly whites’ sensitivity.