After a spoonful of hot soup or a bite of ice cream, have you ever felt discomfort or pain?
If you have, do not worry you are not alone. The pain caused by cold or hot foods are generally a sign of a cavity, it is also common in individuals who are having sensitive teeth.
Dentist hypersensitivity or ‘Tooth Sensitivity’ is the excruciating pain and discomfort as a response to certain stimuli in the teeth, such as cold or hot temperatures.
It may be a chronic or temporary issue and it can affect several teeth or just one tooth, or all the teeth in a person’s mouth. It has a number of different causes, but mostly, the cases of sensitive teeth are easily cured with a change in a person’s oral hygiene regime.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
The part of the teeth above your gum line i.e. the crowns are covered with a layer of protective Enamel and the roots that are below your gum line are secured with a material known as Cementum. There is Dentine, which is less dense than the securing coverings, underneath the cementum and enamel. There are microscopic canals contained by dentine, called Dentine tubules. These dentine tubules expose the dentine when cementum or enamel become damaged or wears away.
The tooth sensitivity occurs when the underlying layer of your teeth, the dentin, is exposed because of the protective blanket that covers the tooth roots, the receding gum tissue, as mentioned by the Indian Dental Association.
The roots which do not get covered by hard enamel, contain thousands of little tubules connecting to the pulp, the tooth’s nerve centre. The dentinal channels or tubules allow the stimuli like cold, hot or sweet food, to get to the nerve in the tooth which leads to pain.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Some people have sensitive teeth naturally while some suffer from them due to having thinner enamel. The enamel protects the tooth and it is the outer layer of the tooth. There are many reasons that tooth enamel can wear down from:
- Using a hard toothbrush
- Brushing your teeth too hard
- Regularly eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages
- Grinding your teeth at night
There are some other conditions that can lead to tooth sensitivity sometimes, like Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). It can wear down the teeth over time as it can cause acid to rise from the stomach and oesophagus. Other conditions like gastroparesis and bulimia that cause frequent vomiting can also wear down the enamel by causing acid.
Gum recession, broken teeth, chipped teeth, tooth decay, getting gum fillings, crowns or teeth bleaching can also become a major cause for teeth sensitivity.
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Symptoms of Teeth Sensitivity
There are certain triggers that are a response to the pain and discomfort that people with sensitive teeth may experience and this pain is felt at the roots of the affected teeth. The most common triggers are:
- Alcohol-based mouth rinses
- Cold foods and beverages
- Hot foods and beverages
- Sweet foods and beverages
- Cold air
- Coldwater, especially during routine dental cleanings
- Brushing or flossing teeth
- Acidic foods and beverages
These symptoms may range from mild to intense and they may come and go over the time for no obvious reason as such.
Tooth Sensitivity Treatment
In the case of mild tooth sensitivity, one can try the dental treatments that are over-the-counter.
- One should use a toothpaste that is labelled as being specially made for sensitive teeth as these kinds of toothpaste may have desensitizing ingredients that help you in protecting from the discomfort that travels to the nerve of the tooth and will not have any irritating ingredients.
- Choose an alcohol-free mouth rinse when it comes to mouthwash because they are less irritating to sensitive teeth.
- Brush more gently and use softer toothbrushes.
If these home treatments for sensitive teeth do not work, you should definitely consult your dentist.