Tooth Sensitivity

What is tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is pain or discomfort in one or more teeth that's triggered by hot, cold, sweet or sour foods and drinks or even by breathing cold air. The pain can be sharp, sudden and can shoot deep into the nerve endings of your teeth.

What causes tooth sensitivity ?

The causes of tooth sensitivity can be divided into two major categories

Damaged enamel due to:

  • High abrasive toothpaste
  • Using hard bristled toothbrush
  • Forceful or horizontal tooth brushing
  • Acidic foods and drinks
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Repeated vomiting which causes stomach acids to reach the teeth.

Receding gums due to:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Inflammation and infection of the gums
  • An inefficient tooth brushing technique

Why does tooth sensitivity occur ?

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the dentin (middle layer) of a tooth is exposed. Normally, the dentin is covered by enamel above the gum line and by cementum below the gum line. Dentin contains tiny openings called dentinal tubules. Inside each tubule lies a nerve branch that comes from the tooth's pulp. When the dentin is exposed to cold or hot, temperature or pressure affects these nerve branches. This causes tooth sensitivity.

How is tooth sensitivity treated?

    There are two basic approaches to the treatment of dentinal hypersensitivity.

  • The first approach is to treat the tooth with a chemical agent which stops the transmission of pain by depolarizing the nerve fibers.
  • The second approach is to treat the tooth with a chemical or physical agent which physically blocks the open dentinal tubules and protects from external stimuli.
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