Tooth sensitivity is often caused by eating or drinking something hot, cold, sweet or acidic. Under normal conditions, the underlying dentin of the tooth (the layer that immediately surrounds the nerve) is covered by the enamel in the tooth crown, and the gums that surround the tooth. Over time, the enamel covering can get thinner, thus providing less protection. The gums can also recede over time, exposing the underlying root surface dentin. The dentin contains a large numbers of pores or tubes that run from the outside of the tooth to the nerve in the center. When the dentin is exposed, these tubes can be stimulated by changes in temperature or certain foods
Common causes for dentinal hypersensitivity:
• Overbrushing with excessive pressure or for long time.
• Using medium or hard-bristle toothbrushes.
• Gingival recession resulting from poor hygiene or aging.
• Using large amounts of paste or reapplying it during brushing.
• Acidic beverages, like soda, cause enamel erosion and dentin exposure.
• Excessive flossing or improper use of other interdental cleaning devices.
• A chipped or fractured tooth.
• “Picking” or scratching at the gumline.
The best way to find out why a tooth is sensitive is to have dental professional examine you. They can look for the signs of dentin exposure, find the cause of the sensitivity. Sometimes, the sensitivity is due to a cavity or gum disease and these can be treated to address the sensitivity. Other times, the cause of the sensitivity is because the enamel has been lost through abrasion or erosion, or the gums have receded, causing the roots to be exposed.
• Use of appropriate tooth brush and the paste.
• Correct brushing technique to prevent abrasion of the enamel and recession of the gums.
• Specially formulated toothpaste to help reduce sensitivity.
• Fluoride foam or gel can be placed into a mouth tray; you then sit with this in your mouth for 3-5 minutes, providing the teeth with a high concentration of fluoride to strengthen the areas.
• Bonding agent can be used to seal the dentin surface and provide a barrier to the stimuli that cause sensitivity.
• Restoration of the areas that have lost enamel.
There are a number of treatments available, and your dental professional can help you find those that will work best, depending on your situation. Always seek a dental professional’s help – do not try to diagnose this problem yourself. It may be the sign of something more serious, and only a dental professional can tell you what it really is.
Dr. Akanksha Ostwal
Periodontist/ General Dentist
Bahrain Specialist Hospital