DefinitionSensitivity occurs when tooth enamel becomes thin or the gums recede enough to expose the underlying surface, which is called dentin. When this layer is exposed to external stimuli, such as cold, heat, pressure, or sweet or sour foods and drinks, you may experience pain or discomfort in the tooth. This is because the dentin layer contains microscopic tubular structures that radiate from the pulp to the external surface layer. The pulp supplies the tooth with food and nutrients and contains nerve fibers, which the tubules contact. When the tubules experience external stimuli due to not being properly protected by the enamel and gums, the stimulus initiates a change which is transmitted to the pulp’s nerve fibers. The stimulus is perceived by the nerve fibers as pain.
There are a number of factors that contribute to sensitivity. Enamel erosion can be caused by brushing your teeth too hard or using a toothbrush with hard bristles instead of soft bristles. Consuming acidic foods can also cause the enamel to be worn away. Gum recession also contributes to sensitive teeth, and can be caused by brushing the gum line too hard or by certain conditions such as gum disease.
Signs and Symptoms
Experiencing discomfort or pain when eating or drinking cold, hot, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages is the classic sign of tooth sensitivity. Breathing cold air can also be uncomfortable. Sensitivity may come and go at different times. You don’t have to experience discomfort with all of the common stimuli to have sensitivity; pain associated with just one stimulus, such as cold, can indicate a problem. If you think you have sensitive teeth, talk to your dentist. They can diagnosis the condition and recommend treatment options.
Other Factors that Cause PainSensitive teeth are not the only issue associated with tooth pain, there are several other conditions that also could be the cause. This is one reason it is important to see your dentist if you experience tooth pain because only they can correctly diagnosis the problem. Other issues that can cause pain include the following:
- A chipped or cracked tooth
- Dental caries
- Clenching or grinding teeth
- External tooth whitening
- Leakage around restorations
PreventionProper oral care helps prevent the development of sensitive teeth. The following steps can help lower your risk of sensitivity:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a soft bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste with low levels of abrasives.
TreatmentTalk to your dentist about creating a treatment plan for sensitive teeth. There are products formulated to help strengthen teeth and reduce sensitivity that may be helpful for you. Mouthwash and toothpaste that contain mineralizing salts such as Dead Sea Salt may help in reducing sensitivity. High mineral content of Dead Sea Salt, may help in filling the tubule holes to prevent external stimuli from being transmitted to the nerve fibers in the pulp. This provides natural relief for sensitivity without any harsh chemicals.
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