If you’ve ever had tooth sensitivity, you know how miserable it can be. Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that can cause pain when eating or drinking something hot, cold, or sweet. But what causes tooth sensitivity in the first place? In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of tooth anatomy and explain why some teeth are sensitive to certain stimuli while others are not. Then we’ll list and describe several factors that can contribute to tooth sensitivity. So if you’re wondering why your teeth hurt every time you drink coffee or eat ice cream, keep reading!
What is tooth sensitivity?
To understand tooth sensitivity, we must first understand basic tooth anatomy. Each tooth is made up of three layers: the enamel, the dentin, and the pulp. The enamel is the hard outer layer that protects the tooth from damage. The dentin is a softer layer beneath the enamel that contains tiny tubes that lead to the pulp. The pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
The enamel and dentin make up the vast majority of the tooth, and they are both quite hard. However, they are not impervious to damage. Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that occurs when the tooth’s enamel is worn down, exposing the underlying dentin. Dentin is a sensitive layer of tooth tissue that contains small pores. When these pores are exposed, they can allow hot, cold, or sweet stimuli to reach the nerve endings in the teeth, causing pain.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
There are many factors that can contribute to tooth sensitivity. Let’s take a look at some of the most common:
Brushing Too Hard:
One of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity is brushing too hard or using a toothbrush with hard bristles. When you brush your teeth too forcefully or use a hard bristled brush, you can wear down the enamel, exposing the dentin and causing sensitivity.
Bruxism is a condition that causes people to grind or clench their teeth. This can occur during the day or at night while you are sleeping. Over time, bruxism can wear down the enamel on your teeth and cause sensitivity.
Acidic Foods and Beverages:
Acidic foods and beverages can also contribute to tooth sensitivity. When you consume acidic foods or drinks, the acid can erode the enamel on your teeth. This can lead to sensitivity and pain.
Gum recession is a condition in which the gums pull away from the teeth, exposing more of the tooth’s root. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including brushing too hard, periodontal disease, or genetics. Gum recession can cause sensitivity because it exposes the root of the tooth, which does not have enamel to protect it.
Tooth decay is another common cause of tooth sensitivity. When you have a cavity, the tooth decay can reach the dentin and cause pain. If decay reaches the pulp, then it can also cause a painful pulp infection.
Damage to your teeth can also lead to sensitivity. This damage can be caused by trauma, such as a fall or an injury, or by wear and tear over time. When your teeth are damaged, it can expose the dentin and lead to sensitivity.
If you have old dental restorations, such as fillings or crowns, they can also cause tooth sensitivity. Over time, these materials can break down and allow hot, cold, or sweet stimuli to reach the nerve endings in your teeth.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn and other symptoms. GERD can also cause tooth sensitivity because the acid can erode the enamel on your teeth.
In this blog post, we have discussed why teeth can be sensitive. We have also looked at some of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort when eating or drinking anything hot, cold, or sweet, talk to your dentist to find out if you have sensitive teeth and what to do about them. Thanks for reading!
Dr. Gerald Sisko graduated from Ohio State University College of Dentistry in 1987. He is an active member of the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, and the Akron Dental Society where he is currently holding a council position. He has had the honor and distinction of being awarded “TOP DENTIST” in Akron and Cleveland as well as Northeast Ohio for the last several consecutive years.