Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?

  • By StarBrite Dental
  • 02 Nov, 2017

Coffee, tea, ice cream, or a long, icy drink on a summer day—we all enjoy pleasures like these. But when your teeth are sensitive, hot and cold foods or drinks are simply causes of torment. If your teeth have begun to hurt every time you eat something hot or cold—or even when you breathe through your mouth in cold weather—you should know that there are solutions to this sensitivity. It just takes the right care by a skilled dentist to find the exact cause of the problem.

The Anatomy of Sensitivity

Understanding the changes your teeth go through when they become more sensitive helps you understand the underlying causes, as well as the solution. The outermost layer of your teeth is called “enamel” and it’s the hardest substance in your whole body. Normally, enamel protects the inner, sensitive part of your teeth from changes in temperature. But enamel can be worn away or damaged and this inner part of your teeth – called dentin – is then exposed to the direct effects of heat and cold. Dentin has microscopic channels called tubules that relay heat and cold to the nerve connected to the tooth. The irritation of this nerve shows up as pain. 

A similar effect is created when roots lose their protection to heat or cold. Your gums normally cover and shield the roots of your teeth, but when gums suffer damage that causes them to recede, they leave the roots of your teeth poorly defended.

What Causes Sensitivity to Develop?

There are many causes. Some of them you can detect and improve and others require the help of your dentist. Take a look at the following list. 

•  Brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard toothbrush causes tooth erosion and trauma to the gums that results in recession.
•   Eating acidic foods like tomatoes and tomato products, citrus fruits, kiwi fruits and pickles is hard on the enamel. After the enamel is worn, eating these foods irritates the nerves and causes pain.
•   Gum disease causes gum tissues to separate from the teeth, creating pockets in which infections can start. These infections can leave root surfaces exposed to heat and cold.
•   Broken, chipped, cracked or decayed teeth all expose nerves to heat and cold.
•   Recent dental work may leave some teeth more sensitive for a while. This is particularly true of crowns, teeth cleanings, whitening procedures and fillings.
•   Whitening toothpastes contain chemicals that bleach the teeth. These chemicals make some people’s teeth more sensitive.
•   Some people respond to stress by clenching their teeth. Others grind their teeth in their sleep without knowing it. Accumulated trauma can make teeth more sensitive.

Resolving Sensitivity

Some of these causes can be resolved at home. For example, you can reduce the number of acidic foods or beverages you drink, or get a softer toothbrush and brush less aggressively. You can also stop using a whitening toothpaste and you may just have to give post-dental-work pain some time to fade away.

Other causes require a dentist’s help to eliminate. Fortunately, dentists have the skills to address these problems and reduce or even eliminate your sensitivity.

The best thing you can to prevent or eliminate sensitivity is to get a thorough examination by an expert dentist, then follow your dentist’s recommendations regarding any treatments needed, such as fillings or crowns. Any signs of gum infections should be promptly treated before they can develop into a chronic condition that is much harder to treat. Desensitizing toothpastes may help, but any problem that needs a dentist’s care has a chance to worsen if it is not treated promptly.

Dr. Maryam Seifi and her staff have many years of experience improving situations that cause sensitivity. There’s no reason for you to suffer when there are expert solutions available to you. Visit StarBrite Dental , the office of Maryam Seifi, and let us help you return to that wonderful world where coffee, tea, ice cream and long, icy drinks on hot days give you all of the pleasure—and none of the pain. If you live in the Rockville, Maryland or metropolitan Washington, D.C. areas, call us today at (301) 770-1070 to schedule an appointment.

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