What Causes Hyper-sensitivity in Teeth?
Why are "normal" teeth not hyper-sensitive? The reason is that a healthy layer of enamel effectively guards the softer "dentin" layer that lies just below and is directly connected to your tooth's nerve endings. The enamel covers the clinical crown, the visible portion of the tooth protruding from the gums And there are even micro-sized "tunnels" that run through your dentin to your tooth's inner "pulp," which transmits the painful feeling more quickly.
If cavities cut through your enamel, or if teeth have small cracks/fissures, or if your gum line receding, your teeth are more likely to become sensitive. Teeth can also become temporarily sensitive right after receiving a new filling, especially when biting down. Receding gums exposes the cementum, which covers the dentin and which is softer than enamel and more easily irritated.
Chronic tooth sensitivity can have many causes, including:
- Clenching or grinding your teeth, since that can wear away your enamel.
- Using a toothbrush with very hard bristles or simply brushing down too hard with an ordinary toothbrush.
- Eating high-acid foods and drinks.
- Plaque build-up and cavity formation from a high-sugar diet and/or poor dental hygiene.
- Gum disease, which leads to roots of teeth being exposed.
- Use of certain teeth whiteners that erode enamel.
- Certain mouthwashes that contain too much acid.
- Even small cracks in teeth, into which plaque can get lodged.
Three Ways to Treat Over-sensitive Teeth
Unless the cause of tooth sensitivity is identified and eliminated, it will be impossible to 100% stop tooth sensitivity. However, the following solutions can greatly reduce its severity and frequency:
1. Adjust Your Oral Care and Diet
There is much you can do right at home to fight tooth sensitivity. Avoid high-acid foods/drinks, especially soft drinks. Kick the habit if you grind your teeth or bite your fingernails (or use your teeth to open packages)! If you play contact sports, use a mouth guard.
Switch to a sensitive-tooth formula toothpaste. Use a fluoridated mouthwash at least twice a day. And be sure your toothbrush is soft-bristled and you don't push down too hard while brushing.
2. Gum Grafts or Other Gum Disease Treatments
Gum disease is often a major cause of tooth sensitivity, particularly when your gum line is receding. Root scaling and planing may be the answer, or you may just need special antibiotics to apply to your gums. But in cases where the gum line has receded too far, gum graft surgery may be the best way to cover up your roots again and restore healthy gum tissue. Not only can this prevent the ill effects of periodontal disease (including tooth loss), but it will also protect your teeth from hyper-sensitivity.
3. Other Dental Procedures
Crowns, dental bonding, dental sealants, and inlays can correct cracked, broken, or worn down teeth and reduce sensitivity. These procedures could also save your teeth. In extreme cases, you may need a root canal surgery or you may be better off getting an extraction followed by a dental implant.
To learn more about fighting tooth sensitivity and gum disease, contact Dr. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, Florida, for a free consultation.