Tooth sensitivity is a relatively common condition. You may recognize it as a painful sensation that you get when your teeth are exposed to a hot, cold or acidic element.
In order to understand the cause of sensitivity, we should first discuss some of the layers that make up your teeth. Enamel protects the crowns of healthy teeth. Cementum protects the tooth at the gum line and dentin lies under the enamel and cementum. Dentin is the chief substance of the teeth. It contains tubules that directly access your nerves. Enamel can become thin and expose the dentin. Heat, cold, acidity and sweetness then stimulate these nerves and cause hypersensitivity.
Some causes of dentin exposure are: tooth decay, tooth grinding, gum recession, gum disease, brushing with an abrasive toothpaste or a chipped tooth. There are dental procedures, like teeth whitening, professional cleanings, orthodontics and even fillings can cause sensitivity.
Once you and your dentist find the cause of your sensitivity, you can begin to treat it. To help prevent enamel and gum recession, you can use a soft toothbrush and make sure you are brushing correctly (see Brushing Techniques). There are many toothpaste brands that are made for sensitive teeth that you would want to use when brushing.
When seeking help from a dental professional, they may apply fluoride varnish to the sensitive areas to help strengthen the tooth, prescribe a high fluoride toothpaste or even perform a dental restoration to build up lost enamel.
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