If you are plagued by tooth sensitivity whenever your teeth touch something hot or cold, you likely have exposed dentin. Dentin is the layer of your tooth underneath the tooth enamel which is filled with microscopic tubules containing nerve endings. In a normal, healthy tooth, the dentin is protected by the tooth enamel in the crown and by cementum in the root beneath the crown.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity:
–Brushing your teeth with a hard-bristled toothbrush and brushing harshly.
–Eating or drinking highly acidic food (soda, tea with lemon, citrus fruits, pickles).
–Any worn, leaky fillings in your teeth, or broken teeth which expose dentin.
–Gum recession (when your gums pull away from the teeth).
–Bruxism, or grinding your teeth while you sleep.
–Having recent dental work done, i.e. crown, fillings, or tooth whitening.
–The buildup of plaque on your teeth.
What Makes up a Tooth:
The pulp is the soft tissue in a tooth’s center surrounded by the dentin. It is made up of cells, blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerve tissue, and connective tissue. The pulp nourishes the tooth and repairs dentin. Cementum is the thin layer of calcified or mineralized tissue covering the root of the tooth which sits inside the gum socket. Cementum is harder than bone but softer than the enamel or dentin. Dentin is harder than bone and softer than enamel and contains microscopic tubules. The canals transmit pain stimuli as well as nutrition through the tissues. This is why tooth sensitivity arises, because when the dentin is exposed these pain stimuli are in play. And finally, the tooth enamel is a hard tissue that coats and protects the crown and is the hardest tissue in the body. After fully forming it can’t grow or repair itself, but can remineralize (regain) lost minerals.
What You Can Do:
There are things you can do to ease tooth sensitivity. You can begin by using a desensitizing toothpaste and brushing your teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Limit your exposure to acidic foods and avoid harsh abrasives like tartar control toothpastes, tooth whitening, etc. If you grind your teeth while you sleep, you can wear a mouth guard to protect your enamel from wearing down.
Dr. Lois Lee can also help you with tooth sensitivity. For more information, please call our Meadowdale Dental Clinic team today at (425) 361-0842!