The Scoop on Tooth Sensitivity

HAVE YOU EVER FELT a painful jolt through your teeth when you bite into ice cream or take a sip of hot coffee? If so, then you’re familiar with the woes of tooth sensitivity, and you’re not alone. More than half of adults age 20-50 experience some degree of sensitivity, and children’s teeth can be sensitive too.

Why does this happen? In order to understand tooth sensitivity, it helps to learn a bit about the structure of a tooth and how its various parts function.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

The crown is the white portion of the tooth that can be seen above the gum line. Each tooth is covered in a thin layer of hard enamel. Beneath the enamel is dentin, a bony substance with thousands of microscopic tubules that run through it. These tubules are how the nerves in the pulp at the core of each tooth detect what’s going on at the surface.

Causes Of Sensitivity

Most often, tooth sensitivity occurs when the hard enamel wears away. This happens for a variety of reasons, teeth grinding, erosion from acid, or even improper brushing. With the enamel compromised, the tubules in the dentin become exposed. Once that happens, eating or drinking anything hot or cold — sometimes even sweet or sour — will give the tooth a nasty shock.

Another major cause of sensitivity is root exposure. Because teeth roots don’t have that layer of enamel, their main defense is the gums. When gum recession occurs, which can also be caused by teeth grinding or improper brushing, the roots of the tooth are vulnerable. Other causes of sensitivity include cavities or having a chipped or fractured tooth.

How You Can Protect Your Teeth

If you do have sensitive teeth, there are several ways to fight back. First, use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Hard bristles can further damage tooth enamel and gum tissue. Another measure is switching to toothpaste that is specifically formulated for sensitive teeth. Finally, avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks, particularly soft drinks.

Smileboston Can Help!

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity be sure to come see us – even if your next scheduled appointment is still months away.  The professional team at Smileboston can strengthen your teeth with a fluoride varnish, perform restore areas with enamel loss, prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste or address any areas of gum recession with the Pinhole Surgical Technique.  Visit Smileboston online for more information or give us a call at 617-277-4100.