What makes Teeth Sensitive?
Let’s look at the what causes teeth sensitivity?
Gums cover bone and roots of the teeth. When gums recede, it exposes the root surface. Cementum is the layer covering the root of the tooth and is less mineralised as compared to enamel. Gum recession results in cavities on root surface and loss of cementum due to hard brushing. This results in tooth sensitivity.
Cavity on any surface of the tooth may result in sensitivity. Small cavities may be asymptomatic and deep cavities may result in extreme sensitivity to hot or cold foods.
Gingivitis or periodontitis may result in gum recession. This eventually results in sensitivity to hot or cold foods.
Broken tooth or fracture in the tooth:
The innermost part of the tooth is called pulp; which houses nerves and blood vessels. The layer covering this pulp tissue is called dentin. Dentin layer is more conductive of sensitivity due to a network of tubules that run in the dentin. The layer covering dentin on root surface is cementum and the layer covering crown portion is enamel. Enamel is the hardest layer of these.
When a tooth fractures and if the fracture is deep and involves dentin; there is a high chance that it will become sensitive.
Abfraction- sensitivity due to teeth grinding:
Enamel is very brittle. Teeth grinding places high compressive pressure on the neck area of the tooth. Because of this repeated continuous pressure; brittle enamel breaks away from the tooth. Thus, exposing dentin layer. Hard brushing further removes dentin and making the teeth more susceptible to temperature of food.
Abrasion of teeth due to hard brushing:
Dentists recommend using a soft tooth brush with gentle pressure. Brushing with improper technique, hard tooth brush and too much pressure may cause loss of enamel. Resulting in exposure of dentin and thus sensitivity.
Lost or broken fillings:
Fillings are usually done when cavity is into dentin layer. Fillings that are broken or lost may expose the dentin layer of the tooth causing sensitivity.
Recurrent decay- cavities under existing fillings or crowns:
Fillings cannot be considered permanent. Cavities can form along fillings or some other part of the tooth. Regular dental care, exam and x-rays play an important role to prevent and catching at an early point.
How can we get rid of tooth sensitivity?
Consulting the Dentist:
The most important and crucial step is to see your dentist for correct diagnosis and correct treatment. The dentist will do a visual exam, x-rays or other tests to diagnose and will recommend the treatment to address your complaint.
There are many anti-sensitivity toothpastes available. Before using any such product, consult your dentist. Most anti-sensitivity tooth-pastes may have to be used for a longer duration to see the impact. Make sure you are not allergic to any ingredients of the tooth paste or any product you use.
The dental professional may apply some desensitising products in office as well.
Any broken fillings, cavities, abfractions and abrasions that need fillings should be completed.
Gum graft can be done to cover the roots exposed by gum recession.
Mouth guard is a device that covers the teeth surface and acts as a cushion. It is indicated for patients who grind their teeth.
Regular Hygiene, Exam and home care:
In order to maintain healthy gums and control receding gums regular dental hygiene appointments are important. These appointments include teeth cleaning, assessment and monitoring of gums. Regular home care which includes twice a day brushing and once a day flossing is equally important to maintain healthy gums which can help to reduce sensitivity.