If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, you know how painful it can be. Too many of us suffer in silence when the sharp pain of a cold drink shoots through our jaw. We figure it’s just par for the course. But often, sensitivity in your mouth is the first sign that something is amiss with your pearly whites. Let’s take a closer look at the causes of sensitivity, what it means, and how you can relieve the symptoms.

Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity happens when the outer layer of your tooth begins to wear away, exposing the dentin underneath. The part you see on the outside of your tooth is a hard, smooth enamel. Tooth enamel is actually the hardest substance found in the human body. It covers a more delicate inner layer of tissue known as dentin. Dentin provides a structure for the enamel and protects the innermost part of the tooth known as the pulp chamber. The pulp chamber resides at the center of the tooth and contains the blood vessels and nerves that feed the tooth. Damage to the enamel on the tooth surface causes parts of the dentin to become exposed to outside stimuli. Dentin is made up of small tubes that lead down into the pulp chamber. When foods and beverages wash over the exposed dentin, they can filter down onto the nerves, causing tooth pain. This is why worn down enamel can cause tooth sensitivity.

Why Are My Teeth Sensitive All Of A Sudden?

It may seem like your teeth become sensitive overnight, but barring acute trauma, it takes time for enamel to form cracks or become worn away. But it only takes one time for a hot or cold beverage to activate those nerves for you to feel that stabbing pain. You may wonder…can tooth enamel be repaired? Unfortunately, no. Because enamel is not made from living cells, it will not regenerate once it’s damaged. Tooth enamel loss is caused by many things. Acidic foods and drinks can eat enamel away. It can also become cracked or damaged by chewing ice or using your teeth as a tool to open or tear at things (something you should never do!) Your teeth need to last you a lifetime, so it’s important that you take good care of your teeth from the very beginning.

What Are Sensitive Teeth a Sign Of?

Tooth sensitivity is often the first sign that there is a potential dental problem. While sensitive teeth are usually a result of worn enamel, other dental emergencies can also be at fault. It’s possible that a cracked tooth, cavity, or gum recession can also be at the root of the problem. If you notice sensitivity, a visit to your dentist should be at the top of your list for advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

How Do You Stop Sensitive Teeth Pain?

Your teeth can become sensitive to a number of different stimuli, but hot, cold, and sweet are the most common. But the good news is that tooth sensitivity can be treated. If your case is mild, your dentist may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste that can block the pathway to the nerve in order to reduce sensitivity. A fluoride gel treatment given by your dentist can also help strengthen tooth enamel and provide relief. If you have lost gum tissue from the gum line, or show extreme signs of gum disease, a surgical gum graft can protect the root from being stimulated. If you suffer from a very severe case of teeth sensitivity, the only treatment that may provide some relief is a root canal.

As Always, Prevention Is The Best Medicine

If you’re feeling good at the moment, sensitive teeth are probably not a big concern. Be sure to keep yourself that way by brushing your teeth twice a day (be sure to use a soft-bristled brush). By maintaining a healthy oral health habit, you’ll keep your gum line healthy and tooth decay at bay. Couple that with twice-yearly dental visits and you may never have to experience the pain associated with sensitive teeth.

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