Tooth sensitivity is the pain you may feel when you eat or drink hot or cold foods or drinks. You may also feel pain when you breathe in cold air. Sensitivity can happen when gums pull away from the teeth or when gum tissue is lost. Gum loss can occur as a result of brushing too hard or not brushing and flossing regularly. When gum loss occurs, the part of the tooth below the gumline can be exposed, called the tooth root.
There are tiny tunnels that contain fluid and lead from the tooth root to the tooth’s nerve center, called the pulp. When cold or heat touches these tunnels, the tooth fluid can excite the nerve pulp, causing pain in your teeth.
Sensitivity can also happen if the tooth’s hard surface layer, called enamel, gets worn away Tooth sensitivity can come and go, but ignoring it can lead to other health problems in your mouth.
These some factors that can contribute to tooth sensitivity:
- Brushing too hard or using a toothbrush with hard bristles. This can cause gum loss.
- Sugary and acidic foods and drinks. Soda, fruit juices and sugary snacks can contribute to cavities, which may cause sensitivity.
- Teeth Grinding. This can wear down tooth surfaces.
- Dental cleanings or treatments. Sensitivity can happen after dental cleanings or treatments like tooth whitening. It usually goes away shortly after treatment ends.
Here are some ways you can help prevent sensitivity:
- Brush and floss your teeth twice a day to prevent gum loss. Be sure to clean all parts of your mouth, including between teeth and along the gum line.
- Brush gently and use a toothbrush with soft bristles. This will help prevent gum loss and protect your enamel from being worn away.
- No soda. Avoid acidic foods and drinks.
- Check your toothpaste. Use a toothpaste specially formulated to soothe the nerve endings in the tooth.
- Fluoride Toothpaste. Use a high concentration fluoride toothpaste (given to you by your dental professional) to strengthen the tooth surface.
- Fluoride Varnish. This can be done at your dental office, and it is applied to the exposed areas, strengthening the enamel and dentin.
- Fluoride foam or gel. This can be place in a mouth tray, then you sit with the tray in your mouths for 3-5 minutes. This can be done at your dental office or at home.
- Bonding. this material is used to stick tooth colored restorations to teeth, can be used to seal the dentin surface and provide a barrier to the stimuli that cause sensitivity.
There are a number of treatments available, and your dental professional can help you find those that will work best, depending on your situation. Always seek a dental professional’s help, do not try to diagnose this problem yourself. It may be the sign of something more serious, and only a dental professional can tell you what it really is.