Tooth sensitivity occurs when parts of the tooth become exposed that are normally protected by the gum tissue. If you visit our dentist with sensitivity, she might suggest a number of treatments, including special toothpaste or a varnish applied to the sensitive tooth.
Why are my teeth sensitive?
The exterior portion of the tooth is made of two substances: enamel and dentin. The enamel that covers the outside of your tooth is the hardest substance in the human body—harder even than bone. Beneath the enamel, though, lies the dentin. Dentin is very porous, with tiny, tube-like channels that lead to the interior of the tooth where the nerves lie. If the dentin is exposed, sensation such as pressure and cold can be transmitted to the nerves, creating a sharp, sudden discomfort.
Dentin can become exposed when the gums recede from the bases of the teeth or when enamel is eroded or worn away. Enamel can erode due to a number of factors, including:
- Using a stiff toothbrush or an overly abrasive toothpaste
- Eating foods that are high in acid
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
Dentin can also be exposed when the gums pull away from the bases of the teeth due to gum disease.
Preventing tooth sensitivity
You can help prevent tooth sensitivity by avoiding the above behaviors, but there are also other measures you can take. Maintaining your everyday oral hygiene routine will reduce the likelihood of gum disease and other issues that could lead to sensitivity. If you are clenching or grinding, you might need a mouthguard to wear at night to protect your enamel from damage.
If tooth sensitivity becomes bothersome, see our dentist. Ask about toothpaste for sensitive teeth, which helps in most cases by filling the small tubules in the dentin with minerals. Our dentist might also recommend treatment in the dental office if sensitive toothpaste is not working or if you need immediate relief. This often involves a fluoride varnish or a similar treatment to cover and protect the exposed dentin.
Call Dr. Kelli Slate today at (214) 821-8639 and set up your appointment.