What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Teeth can become sensitive to hot or cold water rather quickly. You may not have noticed any problems previously, but now you cannot ignore the tooth pain when you get a drink. Sensitive teeth signal that there is a problem.
Sensitive Teeth Causes
Your teeth can become sensitive to hot or cold for a number of reasons. All of them, however, point to one basic problem – your teeth (or tooth) have lost their protective enamel covering.
The outer layer of enamel on all of your teeth is very hard. Over time, various substances and bacteria can cause the outer layer of enamel to erode, which can expose the nerve underneath. There is actually another layer under the enamel called cementum that must also become eroded before the nerve becomes sensitive.
The cementum is on top of a layer called dentin and dentin is not as dense as the other two. It is made up of hollow tubes that will enable hot or cold liquids, and some food through them to touch the nerve. When it does, you will feel pain.
Several problems can cause the underlying nerve to become exposed to produce the tooth sensitivity that you feel. These problems include:
- Teeth that are fractured
- Worn tooth enamel
- Worn fillings
- An exposed tooth root.
Causes of Tooth Decay
Many people have heard for most of their lives that sweets can cause cavities – but most people do not know how. The truth is that the culprit is microscopic – bad bacteria. There are over 700 different types of bacteria in your mouth.
When the bad bacteria come in contact with sugar, it turns it into an acid. This acid slowly erodes the enamel on your teeth, causing it to have pits in it. These pits, sooner or later, will reach into the cementum, then to the dentin, where liquids finally come into direct contact with your tooth's nerve.
The sensitive teeth pain is not the end of your problem. The same bacteria that eroded your teeth are also capable of eroding your gums and more. The destruction of your teeth with an acid can be compounded if you drink a lot of sodas and fruit drinks. Both of these drinks contain acids that add to the damage done by the bacteria. Sooner or later you will develop gum disease.
Having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also cause dental sensitivity. The acid from your stomach can help erode your tooth's enamel, leading to teeth that are sensitive to hot and cold.
While anyone can get sensitive teeth at any age, people between the ages of 20 and 40 are the ones most likely to have that problem. Women have an increased likelihood of developing sensitive teeth.
Sensitive Teeth Treatment
Sensitive teeth can be treated in a way that will reduce the pain when you drink or eat hot or cold foods or liquids. On your own, you could try over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste.
The dentist may also try some other options for a sensitive teeth remedy:
- Fluoride gel – this is a fluoride varnish that is used to seal the sensitive teeth. It will help to strengthen your tooth's enamel and the dentin.
- Tooth repair – this process uses the same bonding material that is used to repair chips and some other dental problems. It is tooth colored and it is used to seal the dentin surface and protect it from hot and cold substances.
- Gum grafts – when your gums have receded from gum disease and exposed the tooth roots, a dentist may suggest gum grafts. This surgical method replaces the lost gums to recover the roots of your teeth.
- Root canal – when other methods have been tried and failed, a dentist can give you a root canal. This method removes the cap of the sensitive tooth, deadens the nerve inside that is causing the pain and puts a new crown on it. A root canal is the best method to stop sensitive teeth symptoms.
If you tend to grind your teeth at night, you are at risk of having other teeth become sensitive. A dentist can help you get a quality mouth guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.