Why do your teeth feel sensitive?

One of the most common dental conditions is intermittent tooth sensitivity to temperature or touch. If tasting ice cream, or sipping coffee makes you wince, or if brushing or flossing causes you pain ? you likely suffer from dentinal sensitivity.

It is important to make a clear distinction between sensitive teeth and toothaches. If the pain is great, present with or without a stimulus, or is a recent discovery ? you might be suffering from a toothache that requires more attention than sensitive teeth. Read our emergency section regarding toothaches, and consult your dentist.

What causes sensitive teeth?

To better understand the cause of sensitivity, it is important to see how a tooth can experience sensation. A healthy tooth has blood vessels and nerves running within it — a region known as the pulp. Since it is innervated, a tooth?s pulp is capable of experiencing all sorts of sensation, including extreme pain. These pulp nerves run through the dentine and cementum layers as well, making them sensitive to temperature and touch.

Fortunately, with a healthy tooth, hard impermeable enamel covers the sensitive dentin layer. Likewise, healthy gums extend up to the enamel, covering the sensitive cementum layer that covers the tooth?s roots. As such, a healthy tooth experiences no sensitivity because all layers that can experience pain are protected from outside stimuli.

Tooth sensitivity arises when the protective enamel layer is lost and dentin is exposed, or similarly, when the gums recede and leave the cementum exposed. Based on that, the following can cause tooth sensitivity:

  • gum or gingival recession (your gums recede, exposing tooth roots)
  • acidic drinks that dissolve or erode the enamel on your teeth
  • excessive teeth grinding or bruxism that wears teeth down
  • brushing too hard, or using a brush with hard bristles that wears the enamel
  • teeth whitening treatments (though it should be temporary)
  • gum disease or anything that exposes a tooth?s roots
  • dental decay that has eroded through the enamel and exposed dentin
  • new dental filling that is leaking or placed too close to the pulp
  • old age ? gums naturally recede and expose the roots through time

Call Dublin Metro Dental Group today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sadineni.

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