Many people enjoy a hot cup of soup during winter or a cold glass of water on a hot summer day. However, if you have sensitive teeth, these seemingly ordinary comforts may send a shiver down your spine. Tooth sensitivity can make everyday foods and drinks impossible to enjoy, and it can make caring for your teeth all the more difficult.
To better understand tooth sensitivity, why it occurs, and how to treat it, let’s first go over the structure of a tooth.
The Structure of a Tooth
Each tooth has three main layers: enamel, dentin, and pulp (also called pulp chamber). The enamel is the hard, outer coating that protects the inner, soft layers that contain delicate tissues and nerves. Within the dentin layer is a network of microscopic pathways that leads to the tooth’s center (root canal). The root canal is where the pulp chamber resides, and within the pulp chamber are living connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels that nourish the tooth.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the tooth’s pulp is exposed, making the tooth more vulnerable to temperature and touch. There are two main reasons why one may experience tooth sensitivity: enamel erosion and gum recession. Without proper care or treatment, your tooth sensitivity can become even more severe.
Enamel Erosion – Enamel can wear down from brushing your teeth too hard, grinding your teeth, or consuming acidic foods and drinks. As the enamel erodes, dentin becomes exposed to certain triggers—such as hot soup or cold water—that stimulate the nerves. This stimulation can induce sudden bursts of pain known as tooth sensitivity.
Gum Recession – Similar to enamel erosion, gum recession also causes dentin exposure and makes your nerves more susceptible to their surroundings. Gum recession can occur from brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard-bristled brush, gum disease, and aging.
Signs of Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity can occur in different areas of the mouth, or it can affect only one tooth. Each jolt of nerve pain can feel like a lightning strike to your teeth, making it difficult to bite down, chew, or even speak.
Here are some of the most common signs of tooth sensitivity:
- Foods and drinks that are hot, cold, sweet, sour, or acidic
- Cold weather or air
- Brushing or flossing your teeth
- Pain or sensitivity when chewing
If you experience any of these symptoms, Dr. Harvey can help your teeth heal so you can enjoy the natural function and appearance of your teeth.
Oral Hygiene for Sensitive Teeth
Caring for sensitive teeth can be a challenge, but it is not impossible. With the right approach, you can care for your teeth without the constant sting and ache associated with tooth sensitivity. Our experienced and compassionate team at White Park Dental provides comprehensive treatment to alleviate pain and help you reclaim your smile.
Here are some ways you can soothe your tooth's nerves and protect them from further damage:
- Gently brush your teeth with a soft-bristled brush.
- Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash prescribed by your dentist.
- Wear a mouthguard to prevent teeth grinding.
- Cut back on acidic foods and drinks to reduce the risk of enamel erosion.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for checkups.
Tired of Tooth Pain? Dr. Harvey Can Help!
Tooth sensitivity can take a toll on your oral health and your overall wellbeing. Dr. Harvey is committed to offering patients the compassionate, high-quality treatment they need to enjoy a healthy, pain-free smile.
Call us today at (603) 225-4143 to schedule an appointment.