sensitivity is tooth discomfort in one or more teeth
that is triggered by hot, cold, sweet or sour foods and drinks,
or even by breathing cold air. The pain can be sharp, sudden,
and shoot deep into the nerve endings of your teeth.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the underlying layer of your
teeth – the dentin – becomes exposed as a result
of receding gum tissue (the protective blanket that covers
the tooth roots). The roots, which are not covered by hard
enamel, contain thousands of tiny tubules leading to the tooth's
never center (the pulp). These dentinal tubules (or channels)
allow the stimuli – for example, the hot, cold, or sweet
food – to reach the nerve in your tooth, which results
in the pain you feel.
There are many factors that may lead to the development of
tooth sensitivity, including.
• Brushing too hard. Over time, brushing
too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down
enamel and cause the dentin to be exposed. It can also cause
recession of the gums (the gum tissue pulls away from the
• Recession of the gums. As gums move
away from a tooth due to conditions such as periodontal disease,
the root surface becomes exposed.
• Gum disease (gingivitis). Poor oral
hygiene leads to inflamed and sore gum tissue which may cause
sensitivity due to the loss of supporting ligaments, which
exposes the root surface that leads directly to the nerve
of the tooth.
• Cracked teeth. Chipped or broken
teeth may fill with bacteria from plaque and enter the pulp
Grinding. Grinding or clenching your teeth may
wear down the enamel and expose underlying dentin.
• Tooth whitening products or toothpaste with
baking soda and peroxide. These products are major
contributors to teeth sensitivity.
• Your age. Tooth sensitivity is highest
between the ages of 25 and 30.
• Plaque build-up. The presence of
plaque on the root surfaces can cause sensitivity.
• Mouthwash use. Long-term use of some
mouthwashes. Some over-the-counter mouthwashes contain acids
that can worsen tooth sensitivity if you have exposed dentin
(the middle layer of the tooth). The acids further damage
the dentin layer of the tooth. If you have dentin sensitivity,
ask your dentist about the use of a neutral fluoride solution.
• Acidic foods. Regular consumption
of foods with a high acid content, such as citrus fruits,
tomatoes, pickles and tea, can cause enamel erosion.
• Recent routine dental procedures.
Sensitivity can occur following teeth cleaning, root planing,
crown placement, and tooth restoration. Sensitivity caused
by dental procedures is temporary, usually disappearing in
4 to 6 weeks.
What Can You Do to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity?
• Maintain good oral hygiene. Continue
to follow proper brushing and flossing techniques to thoroughly
clean all parts of your teeth and mouth.
• Use a soft bristled toothbrush. This
will result in less toothbrush abrasion to the tooth surface
and less irritation to your gums. Brush gently and carefully
around the gum line so you do not remove more gum tissue.
• Use desensitizing toothpaste. There
are several brands of toothpaste available for sensitive teeth.
With regular use you should notice a decrease in sensitivity.
You may need to try several different brands to find the product
that works best for you. Another tip. spread a thin layer
of the toothpaste on the exposed tooth roots with your finger
or a Q-tip before you go to bed. Do not use a tartar control
toothpaste; rather, use a fluoridated toothpaste.
• Watch what you eat. Frequent consumption
of highly acid foods can gradually dissolve tooth enamel and
lead to dentin exposure. They may also aggravate the sensitivity
and start the pain reaction.
• Use fluoridated dental products.
Daily use of a fluoridated mouth rinse can decrease sensitivity.
Ask your dentist about available products for home use.
• Avoid teeth grinding. If you grind
or clench your teeth, use a mouth
guard at night.
• See your dentist at regular intervals.
Get professional tooth cleaning, oral hygiene instructions,
and fluoride treatments every 6 months (or sooner depending
on your condition).
What Else Can Be Done to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity?
If you still have discomfort ,there may be some dental procedures
that may help reduce sensitivity, including the use of:
• White fillings (bonding) to cover exposed root surfaces
• Fluoride varnishes applied to the exposed root surface
• Dentin sealers applied to the exposed root surface