Sensitive teeth are one of the most common reasons why people seek dental care in adulthood. While there are many different causes of tooth sensitivity, there is some general information that we wanted to provide for our patients about why they may be experiencing tooth sensitivity.
Why are my teeth sensitive?
When you get a “toothache,” it’s actually the dentin that is hurting. When your teeth are healthy, your enamel protects the dentin underneath, which is softer than enamel. Your gums work to protect the tooth roots, which are not protected by enamel. If the enamel is worn down, or if the gum line has receded, then the dentin may become exposed. Dentin is connected to the pulp of the tooth my tiny tubules. When exposed, these dentinal tubules allow extreme temperatures and acidic substances to reach the nerves inside the tooth, causing pain and tooth sensitivity.
What is making my teeth sensitive?
There are many different causes of tooth sensitivity. You dentist will be able to help you determine what food you should avoid and habits you should adjust in order to alleviate your symptoms during your dental appointment Here are a few of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity.
Abrasive brushing – Brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down your enamel, causing dentin to become exposed. This can also cause gum recession, exposing the dentin in the roots of your teeth. Similarly, gum recession and gum (periodontal) disease can also lead to sensitive teeth. Grinding your teeth can also wear down your enamel.
Tooth damage – If your tooth is cracked or otherwise damaged, it can become filled with bacteria and cause inflammation in the pulp of the tooth. In more severe cases, it may lead to infection or other serious issues. If you suffer from tooth damage, you should see your dentist right away.
Enamel damage – The more you wear down your enamel, the less it will be able to protect your dentin. Some common culprits of enamel damage are plaque buildup, long-term use of abrasive mouthwash, and consistently consuming sugary and/or acidic foods.
Dental procedures – Your teeth may be sensitive if you have just had them professionally cleaned, or had a crown replacement, root canal, or other dental procedure done. This pain should be more temporary. Your dentist will talk to you about what your recovery timeline should look like. If you experience pain for longer than they predict, be sure to call the office, or schedule a follow up appointment.
We hope that this information helps you. Smiling should be painless! If you are experiencing chronic tooth pain or sensitivity, please call our office to schedule an appointment with us today. We are here to help our patients achieve their best, most comfortable smiles!