Tooth sensitivity often occurs when eating or drinking something hot, cold, sweet, or acidic. Under normal conditions, the underlying dentin of the tooth (the layer that immediately surrounds the nerve) is covered by enamel and the gums that surround the tooth. Over time, the enamel covering thins, thus providing less protection. The gums can also recede over time, exposing the underlying root surface dentin.
Dentin contains a large numbers of pores that run from the outside of the tooth to the nerve in the center. When dentin is exposed, these pores can be stimulated by changes in temperature or certain foods. Exposure of the dentin can occur due to a number of factors. Some of the more common reasons are:
- Gum recession due to age or improper tooth brushing
- Acidic beverages (such as soda) that cause enamel erosion and dentin exposure
- Tooth grinding – this may actually cause most or all of the teeth to feel sensitive
- Brushing with a very abrasive toothpaste, brushing incorrectly, and/or brushing more than three times a day could result in a loss of enamel
- Gum disease, which can result in gum recession
- A chipped or fractured tooth may expose the dentin
- Treatments such as such as teeth whitening, professional dental cleanings, having braces put on, or getting a filling placed have been known to cause sensitivity during or after the procedure
The first step in doing something about dental sensitivity is to find out what the cause is – a dental professional can help you with this. If the sensitivity is due to exposed dentin, there are a number of steps you can take, as can your dentist, to help reduce the sensitivity. These can include using a very soft bristled toothbrush, brushing correctly to help prevent abrasion of the enamel and recession of the gums, using a toothpaste specially formulated to help reduce sensitivity, applying a fluoride varnish, or placing a dental restoration to build up the areas that have lost enamel.
In the end, whether you need an in-office procedure or over-the-counter products, the most important step is to see a dental professional at Anderson Lane Dental so that he or she can determine the cause of the tooth sensitivity and help you find a solution that will work. For more information on sensitive teeth in Austin, Texas, please contact our dental office today.