If your teeth hurt when you drink something hot or cold, you probably have overly sensitive teeth. But what exactly does that mean, and how can you treat sensitive teeth?
What Is Teeth Sensitivity?
Teeth sensitivity is the sensation that occurs when your dentin is exposed. This happens when your enamel, the hard layer that covers your teeth, or the cementum, the material that protects your tooth roots, wears away or is damaged and exposes the dentin underneath. Receding gums can also expose your dentin, which is composed of tiny canals called tubules that contain fluid and are connected to your tooth’s nerve endings. Therefore, when someone with sensitive teeth has a very hot or cold food or drink, the nerves in their tooth become irritated and cause them to feel pain.
What Are the Causes of Sensitive Teeth?
As mentioned, exposed dentin is what causes teeth sensitivity, but how does your dentin become exposed? There are a number of causes including tooth decay and receding gums from plaque accumulation, gum disease, or vigorous brushing. A cracked filling or cracked tooth can lead to teeth sensitivity when it breaks all the way down to the root.
What Is the Treatment for Sensitive Teeth?
If you suffer from teeth sensitivity, there are a number of treatments that can help alleviate pain. Desensitizing toothpaste is an over-the-counter remedy that contains compounds which block the pain associated with teeth sensitivity. After several applications you should notice relief. Fluoride can also help when applied to the sensitive areas of your teeth as it strengthens enamel and lessens the painful sensation associated with teeth sensitivity. Bonding is another option which entails bonding resin to the surface of exposed roots. If lost gum tissue is causing teeth sensitivity, a surgical gum treatment may be the best option. Finally, if the pain associated with teeth sensitivity is unbearable, root canal therapy is another possible treatment option.
How Can I Prevent Sensitive Teeth?
The best way to prevent sensitive teeth is by practicing proper oral hygiene to ensure that your enamel doesn’t wear down. Gently brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste, floss at least once a day, and consider rinsing with an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash. Other ways to combat teeth sensitivity include eating a healthy diet low in starchy and sugary foods, not brushing your teeth too aggressively, waiting at least 30-60 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth, staying away from acidic drinks like soda and alcohol, and taking a break from teeth whitening. Let us know if you have additional questions about how to reduce your tooth sensitivity!