What Makes Teeth Sensitive?

IF YOU CAN’T REALLY enjoy ice cream because every bite sends a nasty jolt through your teeth, then you know what it’s like to deal with tooth sensitivity. You aren’t alone in that; at least one in eight people in the U.S. has sensitive teeth, including kids. So why does this happen to so many of us?

Dental Anatomy 101

To understand how teeth become sensitive, it helps to know a little about the structure of a tooth. The part above the gums is the crown, which is made of three layers. The outermost layer is the tooth enamel, which is the hardest substance in the body. Beneath that is the softer dentin layer, which is a lot like bone. The innermost layer is the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels.

Exposed Nerves and Tooth Sensitivity

The way the nerves in our dental pulp detect what’s going on at the surface is through the thousands of microscopic tubules running through the dentin. However, if the enamel wears too thin, these tubules can become exposed. Then the nerves inside the teeth feel way too much, which can be painful, particularly when eating or drinking anything hot or cold or even sweet or sour.

Other Causes of Sensitivity

Root exposure is another major cause of sensitivity. Unlike the crowns of our teeth, the roots don’t have a layer of enamel to protect them; that job is performed by the gum tissue. Gum recession, sometimes the result of chronic teeth grinding or of overbrushing, leaves the roots exposed and vulnerable. Sensitivity can also be caused by cavities or an injury that chips or fractures a tooth.

Protecting Your Teeth

There are a few ways you can fight back if you have sensitive teeth, and it starts with switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush if you aren’t already using one. Hard bristles can cause additional damage to the enamel and gum tissue, and soft bristles are more than enough to effectively clean your teeth. Switching to a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth can also help, as can cutting down on sugary or acidic foods and drinks (especially soda).

The Dentist Is Here to Help

If you’ve been suffering tooth sensitivity in silence, schedule a dental appointment to discover the cause. In addition to the things you can do to reduce sensitivity on your own, there’s a lot the dentist can do, such as applying a fluoride varnish to strengthen your enamel, performing dental restoration, prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste, or recommend a gum graft if needed to cover exposed roots.

Keeping your smile healthy and strong is our top priority!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

What Our Clients Say

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“I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I broke my front tooth. I figured I would get a post and crown but found out it was broken too high above the gum line so I needed an implant. Dr. Hosters cleaned everything out and installed the implant in about 50 minutes. Completely pain free as were all the follow ups with Agnes who is awesome. That was 3 months ago. Today was the X-ray to see if the bone healed around the implant and it was perfect. Next I go to my dentist to get the permanent crown. Dr. Hosters did a great job and I would absolutely recommend him!”

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Norwood Park Periodontics | 5212 North Le Claire Avenue, Chicago IL 60630 | 773-774-4888 | ©2022, All Rights Reserved | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

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Norwood Park Periodontics
5212 North Le Claire Avenue
Chicago IL 60630
773-774-4888

©2022, All Rights Reserved
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy