If drinking a hot beverage or eating ice cream makes you want to scream, your teeth may be sensitive. Tooth sensitivity is a condition of discomfort in one or more teeth, triggered by foods and beverages that are sweet, sour, hot, or cold. The discomfort can be mild or a severe pain that is sharp, comes on suddenly, and extends into tooth nerve endings, creating a very unpleasant situation.
What makes teeth sensitive?
Gum tissue protects the roots of teeth. When it recedes, it exposes the underlying layer of teeth, called dentin. Teeth become sensitive when dentin is exposed. The roots of teeth contain tubules that lead to the nerve center, called the pulp. These tubules allow the sensation of hot, cold, sweet, or sour to reach the nerves of teeth, creating pain.
Situations other than gum recession can cause sensitive teeth. Using a hard-bristled toothbrush or brushing teeth too hard can wear down tooth enamel, exposing dentin and creating gum recession. Tooth decay that occurs near the gum line can also make teeth sensitive. Pulp can become inflamed by bacteria when plaque develops on broken or chipped teeth. People with gum disease have gum tissue that is sore, inflamed, and exposes roots, which can cause tooth sensitivity.
Clenching or grinding teeth can wear down tooth enamel, exposing dentin and making teeth sensitive. Even using certain dental products like tooth whiteners or mouthwash can be a contributing factor. Acids in some mouthwashes can make teeth with exposed dentin more sensitive because they cause additional damage. A dentist in Mexico can recommend a neutral fluoride solution for people with dentin sensitivity. Acidic foods like tea, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and pickles can also make tooth enamel erode, causing sensitivity.
How to prevent teeth sensivity.
People play an active role in preventing their teeth from becoming sensitive. Keeping the mouth clean by flossing daily and brushing at least twice a day and after every meal is a recommended preventative measure. If teeth are already experiencing sensitivity, toothpaste for sensitive teeth and a soft bristled toothbrush can reduce discomfort.
Limiting the amount of highly acidic foods consumed reduces tooth enamel erosion that can expose dentin. People who clench or grind their teeth should wear mouth guards when they sleep to prevent tooth sensitivity. Having a dentist perform an oral exam and cleaning every six months is also recommended. The dentist may recommend procedures like fluoride varnishes, or dentin sealers.
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