Sensitive Teeth: Causes and Precautions

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One of the most common oral health problems people face is teeth sensitivity. Research estimates that around 60% of urban population is affected by this problem. It can be a severely painful problem for some people and can also hinder normal life functions at times. It can affect any age or gender group. Therefore, in order to protect yourself from tooth sensitivity, one has to understand what it is and why it happens

The Anatomy of A Tooth

Our teeth are made up of 3 layers. The inner most is the pulp layer, which is a hollow chamber with all the nerves and blood vessels. It keeps the tooth alive. The second layer is the dentine which is a hard structure, brown in color and has microscopic tubes within it. The last and most important layer is the enamel, it is the white part we see. It’s the hardest structure in the body and protects the tooth as well as performs all the functions.

Damage to the upper two layers, the enamel and dentine, makes our teeth sensitive. Also, when the gums are receded, the root of the tooth gets exposed and causes sensitivity.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Mentioned below are the causes of tooth sensitivity:

  • Worn tooth enamel from using a hard toothbrush or brushing too aggressively
  • Tooth erosion due to bulimia, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or highly acidic foods and beverages
  • Gum recession that leaves your root surface exposed

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Permanent damage to the teeth can lead to long term tooth sensitivity. Therefore, in order to prevent teeth from becoming sensitive, it is best if to avoid the following habits:

  • Don’t use a hard bristled toothbrush. It can cause gum recession and loss of tooth enamel. Consider using a soft bristled toothbrush.
  • Try not to brush too hard. This can erode the enamel (the external hard layer of the tooth’s crown) to expose the dentin (which is the softer layer under the enamel), and/or abrade the gums causing recession and exposure of the dentin (root below the gums).
  • Try not to consume acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits, pickles, etc., which can wear away the tooth enamel and cause tooth erosion.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste that comprises of a desensitizing agent. It will have protect the enamel and root surface of your teeth.

If you are scheduling a teeth whitening treatment, you may want to consider using a sensitive toothpaste two weeks prior to the treatment to provide potassium nitrate to sooth the tooth nerves. Talk to your dentist about this prior to your procedure.

It is very important that every person should have a dental examination every 6 months. The dentist can check if there are any cavities building up. Plus, they can do your scaling and polishing, which is recommended every 6 months by the World health Organization.

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If the sensitivity has been causing you pain for a long time, don’t try home remedies consult a dentist immediately. Your dentist can suggest various treatment options after consultations.

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