Tooth sensitivity is an irking sensation that arises when an individual experiences a sudden, sharp pain after biting down on cold, hot, sweet, or sour food. The problem could manifest as temporary or chronic, and could also affect multiple teeth or a single tooth. Typically, the sensation arises when fluid makes contact with the tubes within the dentine thus irritating the nerve. Dental experts recommend that tooth sensitivity should not be a cause for alarm as it often emerges and recedes without causing any adverse consequences. However, it is vital to visit a dentist for a thorough exam to assess if there could be severe underlying issues evoking the sensitivity.
Tooth sensitivity occurs due to deterioration of the tooth structure. Dentine, the material that makes up the inside of the tooth, houses microscopic tubules that encompass numerous miniature nerve endings. When the enamel (the outer layer that protects the dentine located within the crown) is depleted, the nerve endings are exposed. Therefore, when the teeth’s dentine loses the protective covering, it is possible for hypersensitivity to occur. The stimulation of nerves inside a tooth can result in the discomfort characteristic of the condition. It is essential to note the different causes of tooth sensitivity including tooth decay, improper brushing, teeth grinding, worn out enamel, chipped tooth, tooth decay, cracked teeth, dental treatments such as crowns, bleaching or fillings, or erosion of teeth due to acidic foods. The cause determines the mode of treatment. Additionally, it is important to note that sensitivity of teeth has the potential to negatively impact the quality of life by interfering with routine activities including brushing, drinking, and eating. Consequently, it is essential to learn about its causes and how to remedy the problem.
Causes of Teeth Sensitivity
It is crucial to identify the cause of tooth sensitivity as it helps determine an ideal remedy for the condition. Further, consulting a dental professional is essential to identify the precise cause and get professional advice on the issue.
The Type of Toothbrush
Dental experts frequently recommend the use of soft bristled toothbrushes for regular brushing. Research shows that soft bristles are unlikely to cause damage to the enamel and are thus a safe option in the long run.
Teeth whitening has been a breakthrough in improving the beauty of teeth and boosting self-confidence. However, dental professionals reiterate that the overuse of teeth whitening products is detrimental to the integrity of teeth. There are teeth whitening agents/ treatments that contain harsh chemicals meant to remove stains. Some of the harsh chemicals are capable of deteriorating the enamel and thus evoke teeth sensitivity. It is advisable to solicit advice from a dental professional if one is uncertain about the side effects of a tooth whitening treatment. Using oral care products meant for sensitive teeth is also highly beneficial after whitening sessions.
Gum disease or periodontal disease compromises gum tissue through inflammation. Subsequently, the inflamed tissue is unable to protect the roots resulting in sensitive teeth. The disease progresses and deteriorates the bone and other supportive tissues thus causing exposure of teeth roots.
Also, gum recession resulting from ageing or smoking could also lead to the exposure of the teeth roots. For treatment, the dentist may need to perform a deep clean of the teeth. The procedure known as scaling or planing is applied to scrape plaque and tartar forming below the gum line. In some circumstances, there is a need for surgery.
It is possible to experience tooth sensitivity after professional dental procedures including cleaning, crown replacement, root planing, and other restoration procedures performed on teeth. However, for such sensitivity, the pain usually dissipates within four to six weeks.
Flossing is an effective practice in reducing the buildup of plaque that often causes gum disease, tooth sensitivity, and receding gums.
Dental professionals recommend regular flossing as part of the daily oral hygiene routine. Failure to floss can cause teeth sensitivity.
Consuming Foods with High Acidic Content
Foods that contain high levels of acid have the potential to erode enamel and thus exacerbate tooth sensitivity. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid regular consumption of such foods. Examples of such foods include tomatoes, citrus fruits, tea, or hard candy. Healthier alternatives are milk, cheese, plain yogurt, and fruits and vegetables that are rich in fibre. After consuming acidic foods, it is advisable to wait for about an hour before brushing. Moreover, if one has to consume acidic beverages, it is safer to use a straw to minimise the likelihood of the acidic food contacting the teeth.
Aggressive brushing using a toothbrush with hard bristles can deteriorate the gum and lead to exposure of the root over time. Also, the habit causes tooth enamel to abrade and thus lead to exposure of the dentine. In addition to aggressive brushing, dental experts also advise that a side to side brushing motion at the gum line can erode enamel faster. Brushing with a heavy hand thus leads to exposure of the sensitive tooth roots leading to tooth sensitivity. It is desirable to use a soft bristled brush and keep it at a 45-degree angle to the gum to avoid deteriorating the enamel.
Grinding teeth tends to damage the outer layer of the teeth and also expose the inner layer of the teeth thus causing sensitivity. Dentists recommend fitting a mouth guard to help one protect teeth.