What Causes Teeth Sensitivity And How Can You Treat It?


Teeth sensitivity is caused when the protective coating of the teeth gets slowly eroded and it gets affected by the outside environment. Constantly being subjected to hot and cold food and drinks affect the protective enamel of the teeth. Teeth sensitivity affects several people and mostly between 20 to 40 years of age. There is no known at-risk age group that can be shown to have more teeth sensitivity. It is known to affect a wide range of people. The extent of severity ranges in people – some may have a tingling sensation which lasts for a few minutes to some who have major discomfort and are unable to consume hot or cold food.

Teeth structure

The tooth has different sections – the outer most layer is called the enamel and then the following layer is called the dentine. This layer has nerve endings in it. Inner to this layer of dentine is the pulp region of the tooth. When the outer enamel layer gets eroded, the dentine and the pulp core of the tooth gets affected more directly. Every hot or cold food that is consumed has a more direct effect on the tooth. This leads to teeth being sensitive to the food that is consumed.

Causes of Sensitivity in Teeth

Brushing – Some have the habit of brushing too hard. This puts pressure on the enamel coating of the teeth and it wears down. This causes the protective coating over the teeth to be lost and the nerve endings come in direct contact with hot or cold food that is consumed and this results in sensitivity.

Gums receding or gum diseases – Gums recede mostly due to aging. When they are pushed back, more of the teeth are exposed and they get exposed directly to the food and drinks that are consumed. Gum diseases affect the supporting nature of the gums and the inner layer of the teeth gets affected and leads to sensitivity in the teeth. If untreated, this can also lead to bacteria build up in the area and cause further damage to the teeth.

Whitening or bleaching – Staining of teeth can be removed using whitening and bleaching techniques. The stained portion of the enamel is bleached slightly and the natural colour of the teeth is enhanced. In this process it is usually the smaller teeth that get affected. The bleaching agent is absorbed through the pores of the teeth and teeth sensitivity results. This condition usually goes away within a few days’ time.

Stress on tooth – People sometimes have the habit of crunching on ice. This puts extra pressure on the teeth. The same results are seen when hard food substances like candy or nuts are consumed – the pressure on the teeth produces cracks on them. This exposes the inner delicate layer of the teeth and sensitivity is known to effect.

Acidity – Citrus food like orange or lime etc. are acidic in nature as they have a high quantity of citric acid in them. This acid works on the teeth enamel and wears it down. Certain mouthwash and toothpaste have ingredients in them that can affect the protecting covering of the teeth. Constant use of these type of mouth wash can bring on teeth sensitivity.

Treating teeth sensitivity

As the some of the causes of teeth sensitivity has been identified, treatment can be planned by examining them.

Using softer brushes – There are different varieties of brushes available in the market. Buying brushes that have soft bristles will help reduce the effect on teeth enamel. Protection obtained from the enamel can be sustained if soft brushes are used.

Toothpaste and mouthwash – As mentioned, some paste and mouthwashes have ingredients that hasten the loss of enamel. Using a desensitising toothpaste can help to ward off the effects. Mouthwashes can be purchased after understanding their ingredients.

Gum protection – Receding gums result from aging, sometimes they are also caused due to gum diseases. Bacterial build up in the gum area can affect the gum tissue. Proper cleaning after eating will helps to remove the plaque from forming in the teeth and gum tissues. Sometimes gum graft procedures are also done to overcome the problem of receding gums.

Food habits – If one is in the habit of consuming a lot of citrus fruits, then it needs to be managed to reduce teeth sensitivity. Chewing or biting on ice should also be avoided to reduce the pressure or impact on the teeth. Putting a check on these habits can help to preserve dental enamel.

Dental procedures – Teeth sensitivity can be reduced through certain dental treatments like placing dental crowns, bonding. Gum graft procedure is done to protect the teeth in the areas where gums have receded. This helps to cover the areas which are exposed.

In extreme cases, root canal treatment is suggested by dentists to help with teeth sensitivity. Some have teeth sensitivity caused due to teeth grinding problem. In these cases, mouth guards are used. This will help the teeth from becoming worn off due to excessive grinding.

Teeth sensitivity is often thought of as a minor problem which goes away if one does is careful of not consuming hot or cold food. Some experience it when they are exposed to cold weather, the weather can bring the painful experience in their teeth. But it shouldn’t be treated as something insignificant. Teeth sensitivity can be just an indication of other dental diseases like gum diseases or decaying teeth. Teeth can lose their structure and function and results in teeth sensitivity.

Once new symptoms are seen or some disease conditions in your oral cavity is not going away – it is suggested that one goes for a dental consultation. This will help treat the symptoms and address the root cause. Dentists find out underlying causes for these symptoms and treat them effectively. Dental consultations should be conducted twice in a year normally. Sometimes changes in lifestyle and certain practices are enough to bring in continued oral health. Experienced dentists will be able to guide you on this.

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