The Most Common Causes of Sensitive Teeth
If you suffer from sensitive teeth, you know the experience all too well: you take a sip of hot coffee or a cold drink and you immediately feel a sharp jarring pain in your teeth. Sensitive teeth is one of the most common dental problems people experience, and while some people are born with naturally sensitive teeth, most issued are caused by our eating or dental hygiene habits. Here are some of the most common causes of sensitive teeth.
Why Sensitive Teeth Hurt
To understand why sensitive teeth hurt, you must examine the anatomy of a tooth.
As shown in the graphic above, there are nerves at the core of normal teeth and those nerves are surrounded and protected by dentin and enamel. Enamel is the outermost part of a tooth and is hardest substance in the human body, providing most of the protection for the nerve.
Tooth dentin consists of microscopic tubules which conduct heat and cold quickly. If some of a tooth’s dentin is exposed to heat or cold, that extreme temperature is relayed to the nerve, which registers it as tooth pain.
Common Causes of Sensitive Teeth
Here are some of the most common causes of sensitive teeth:
- Thin enamel – Sometimes, the protective enamel on the outside of a tooth can wear thin, reducing the effectiveness of the thermal protection that the enamel provides. Heat or cold is relayed to the dentin and then onto the nerve.
- Cracked or worn enamel – In the case of cracked or extremely worn enamel, the underlying dentin can be exposed. This can lead to more immediate or more extreme teeth sensitivity because the extreme temperatures can be much more quickly relayed to the inner nerve.
- Recessed Gums – Aggressive brushing or poor gum health can cause gums to recess, exposing dentin below the normal gum line and allowing the heat and cold of foods and drink to relay to the nerve.
- Cavities – Cavities occur when there are holes in the enamel, exposing the dentin. These holes can be caused by excessive tooth grinding, wear or decay caused by poor dental hygiene or weak enamel.
How to Treat Sensitive Teeth
There are different recommended treatments for the different causes of sensitive teeth.
There are several over-the-counter (OTC) dental hygiene products that can provide slight or temporary relief from sensitive teeth. Such products work in one of two ways. First, they contain a chemical called potassium nitrate that penetrates the exposed dentin and slightly numbs the nerve inside the tooth. Alternately, tooth sensitivity relieving products can contain a chemical called stannous fluoride that builds a thin protective barrier around the exposed dentin, providing the type of protection that enamel would normally provide.
While OTC products can offer slight or temporary relief, they are often not best suited to significant or permanent tooth sensitivity relief.
When tooth sensitivity is caused by a crack or hole in the enamel, your dentist can use a filling to protect the exposed dentin.
If the dentin is exposed by recessed gums, your family dentist can use fillings to protect the dentin or graft gum tissue from elsewhere in your mouth to replace the recessed gum tissue.
In extreme cases, your dentist might recommend a root canal, a procedure that replaces the worn or damaged pulp in your sensitive tooth with an inert material, providing more protection for the nerve.
Suffering from Sensitive Teeth? Call the Dentist You Trust at Orion Dental!
While the most common causes and the related remedies are described above, there are other possible factors that can cause sensitive teeth. The best way to deal with sensitive teeth is to book an appointment at your family dentist and let them have close look at your teeth, gums and mouth and determine what the cause and best course of action are.
If you’re looking for a dentist to give you and your family the best dental care, look no further than Orion Dental. With offices conveniently located in Milton and Scarborough and with evening and weekend hours, we’ll help take care your mouths and keep your smiles beautiful! Call us today and book an appointment and let’s get started!
P.S. Can We Ask for Your Help, Please?
For the second year in a row, we’re holding a holiday food drive at both of our dental offices. Please help us support the North York Food Bank by bringing non-perishable foods and other helpful donations to your dentist appointments between now and December 25.
Thank you all in advance for your help in making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate this holiday season!