Tooth sensitivity is an uncomfortable dental problem which can make its presence known right when the patient is enjoying a favourite meal. If teeth are sensitive, the slightest change in temperature can bring about a surprising jolt of pain, such as upon biting on something very cold (ice cream), or when exposed to something hot (like a hot beverage). This dental problem may not be obvious at first because sensitive teeth can have the appearance of healthy teeth, with no signs of outward damage or decay. The problem starts when they suddenly become painful when faced with certain stimuli that cause the nerves of the teeth to react in a negative way.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth
There are a number of factors that can cause sensitive teeth. Grinding the teeth, either consciously or otherwise, can make teeth sensitive. This is because the tooth enamel, which serves as the teeths protective outer layer, slowly becomes damaged when exposed to intense pressure caused by tooth grinding. As a result, the sensitive inner layer that contains the nerves is exposed, and is more prone to feeling pain from the slightest change in temperature or pressure. Another factor that contributes to premature enamel erosion (and subsequently, to tooth sensitivity) is a too vigorous method of brushing the teeth. Brushing the teeth too forcefully will eventually wear away the tooth enamel and cause sensitivity problems. Regular and heavy consumption of food and drinks that are high in acidity (such as citrus fruits and fruit juices) can speed up the erosion of the tooth enamel. When the protective enamel covering is worn away, the teeth become even more sensitive when exposed to temperature changes, or when the teeth are exposed to acidic drinks and food items.
Gum disease can cause the teeth to become sensitive, especially if there is gum recession and the gum tissue starts to pull away from the teeth. When the gums recede, the tooth roots become exposed and the teeth will become very sensitive to even the slightest change in temperature. The build-up of plaque on the surface of teeth can also cause the gums to recede and contribute to the teeth becoming increasingly sensitive. This uncomfortable dental problem can also be experienced by those who have had a dental treatment such as a root canal procedure, or a dental crown replacement. Sensitivity is also experienced with teeth that are cracked or decayed, especially when the inner portion (which houses the teeth nerves) is located.