Dentists call it dentin hypersensitivity. To most people, it is simply known as sensitive teeth. Basically, a person who suffers from sensitive teeth would cringe in discomfort when their teeth come into contact with hot or cold foods and beverages. For some people, that sharp sensation emanating from the teeth can even come from inhaling cold air.
The problem of sensitive teeth is rather common and can be due to a variety of causes. One of the main causes is poor oral hygiene, that which leads to tooth decay and cavities. When your teeth are compromised by decay or cavities, the protective layer of enamel may become eroded thereby exposing the soft underlying layer of dentin that connects to the tooth’s nerve center. When the dentin layer is left exposed, the nerve center is no longer protected and vulnerable to external vibrations and sensations – all of which can trigger pain and discomfort.
Of course, cavities and decay are not the only reasons as tooth sensitivity can be the result of gum disease, worn out tooth enamel (due to old age or teeth grinding), exposed tooth roots, old fillings or even a fractured tooth.
Ironically, people who look after their teeth can also develop sensitive teeth. Some people experience the sensitivity for a short period right after visiting the dentist, such as those who just had their teeth professionally cleaned or a crown replacement. If you encounter sensitive teeth following a procedure that does not go away after a couple of days, you should inform your dentist immediately. Others may develop sensitive teeth due to over-brushing their teeth. Yes, it is possible to over brush your teeth.
Here are 4 of the most common reasons why you may have sensitive teeth:
Hard Bristles and Brushing
The jagged edges of the nylon bristles on your toothbrush can scrape away the enamel layer of your teeth if they are too hard or if you exert too much pressure when brushing.
That’s why it is important to use proper techniques when brushing and to use a soft bristled brush for the job. It is also important to replace your toothbrush every 4 weeks. Failing to change your toothbrush periodically is akin to repeatedly cleaning your gleaming porcelain vase with a dirty old rag. It simply defeats the purpose. Moreover, the splayed bristles are more abrasive and prone to wearing out your tooth structure.
Acidic Food and Beverages
Acid-containing food and beverages like soft drinks and citrus juices can erode, wear down and even stain your hard enamel over time. When acidic foods cause demineralization of your teeth, they weaken your tooth enamel and expose your teeth’s dentin, giving rise to sensitive teeth.
Tooth Decay, Broken Teeth or Worn Out Fillings
If your teeth are decayed, broken or your old fillings have worn out, it basically means that your enamel layer is no longer protecting the underlying dentin layer, thereby leaving the nerve in the middle of your teeth exposed and hyper-sensitive. This breach in the protective layer can also lead to other dental ailments as bacteria can easily seep through and infect the sensitive nerves and roots.
If you grind or clench your teeth at night – usually occurs during sleep – you may be suffering from bruxism. Over time, this regular and incessant teeth grinding can also wear out the protective enamel of the teeth. One easy way to counter bruxism is by wearing a protective dental mouthguard to sleep.
For more advice and treatment regarding sensitive teeth, please contact Sydney CBD Dental at (02) 9232 3900.