Both studies, however, revealed that those with this condition suffered from chronic pain.
So, if you feel pain whenever you eat or drink anything hot or cold, it’s likely that you have overly sensitive teeth. It’s best that you pay your dentist a visit soon, as tooth sensitivity can be a sign of more serious teeth and gum issues.
The big question is, what exactly are the causes of hypersensitive teeth? Is there anything you can do to treat and prevent it?
We’ll get to the bottom of all these burning questions below, so be sure to keep reading!
What is Tooth Hypersensitivity?
Tooth hypersensitivity is also known as dental or dentin hypersensitivity. It’s a condition that causes pain or discomfort when the teeth react to certain stimuli. The most common stimuli, or “triggers”, are hot, cold, and acidic food and liquids.
In some people, these unpleasant sensations are temporary. In many others, the symptoms of hypersensitive teeth are long-lasting. The pain or discomfort can also affect just a single tooth, but some people can feel it in several or even all the teeth!
How Do You Tell If You Have Sensitive Teeth?
Tooth hypersensitivity is only one of the many types of dental pain, so it’s best that you see your dentist ASAP. Keep in mind that dental pain (AKA toothache) affects up to 88% of the general population. That said, your toothache can be due to sensitive teeth, but it can also be due to tooth decay or gum disease.
If you get these pain “twinges” when you eat or drink cold stuff, it’s more likely that you have sensitive teeth. Hot food and drinks also often trigger sudden, sharp flashes of pain. The same goes if you eat or drink anything acidic (like citrus fruits or fruit juices).
You may also feel these flashes of pain when you brush your teeth or gargle with mouthwash.
What Causes Dental Sensitivity?
Worn enamel is the main culprit behind dentin hypersensitivity. However, anything that exposes the roots of your teeth can give rise to this condition.
A Closer Look at the Enamel
Did you know that your mouth is home to a type of tissue that’s stronger than your bones or even steel?
That’s right! It’s the enamel that we’re referring to.
The enamel is the outermost layer of the teeth, made up of 97% hydroxyapatite. It’s this composition that makes it very hard and gives it the ability to form a barrier on the surface of the teeth. It protects the innermost layers of your teeth, including the dentin and the roots.
The dentin, on the other hand, accounts for the largest portion of your teeth. It’s a layer of porous tissue, made up of 70% inorganic matter, with the rest being organic materials (20%) and water (10%).
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the dentinal section becomes exposed. If this exposure happens, it means that you’ve lost a significant amount of enamel.
The thing with the enamel is that, even if it’s harder than the bones, it’s very brittle too. Like the bones, however, it does wear down due to the natural aging process as well.
What’s Behind the Wearing or Loss of Enamel?
Poor dental hygiene is a more common reason behind enamel loss though. You can also lose this if you brush with too much gusto or use a hard-bristled toothbrush. The same goes if you regularly eat or drink food and beverages that are very acidic.
Bruxism, which is the involuntary grinding of the teeth, can also wear away the enamel. Bulimia and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) can also result in enamel loss.
Is There Treatment Available for Teeth Sensitivity?
Yes! However, it depends on the root cause and the severity of your teeth hypersensitivity.
For minor tooth sensitivity, your dentist may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste. These are products that can help blunt the pain caused by dentin hypersensitivity. They do take several applications before their effects become noticeable though.
Dental bonding can correct minor chips, cracks, and breakages on the teeth. However, your dentist can also use this to cover exposed tooth root surfaces.
A dental crown is another treatment option for tooth sensitivity. It differs from dental bonding in that it covers the whole surface area of the tooth. That’s why it’s the go-to of patients who have had major trauma to the teeth.
Fluoride is a derivative of fluorine, which is an element that occurs in nature. Fluorine creates fluoride when it mixes and interacts with other minerals. Fluoride itself is in the human body — 99% of it is in your calcified or hardened tissues!
That’s because one of fluoride’s main functions is to harden and strengthen tissues. That’s why many dentists apply it on their patients’ teeth. It helps to restore demineralized teeth, such as teeth that have lost their enamel.
Preventing Dental Hypersensitivity
The first step is to visit your dentist. This way, your dentist can determine what’s causing your tooth pain. With a full oral examination, they can confirm that you have tooth hypersensitivity.
You should also start practicing better oral healthcare and hygiene. Don’t forget to floss and brush your teeth thirty minutes to an hour after every meal.
Also, swap out your hard-bristled toothbrush with one that has softer, tapered-tip bristles. When brushing your teeth, don’t scrub — instead, use gentle, circular strokes.
Time to Desensitize
There you have it, your ultimate guide on tooth hypersensitivity! Now that you know what it is and what causes it, you can begin being more mindful of your pearly whites.
As a final tip, avoid overindulging in acidic and sweet food and beverages. You don’t have to completely say goodbye to them — just make sure that you control their intake.
Speaking of which, here’s a list of healthier food options that you should feast on for stronger teeth!