Tooth sensitivity is a common complaint, especially in the winter time. Simply being out in the cold weather, breathing in the freezing air, can be enough to set off the problem. Drinking hot or cold drinks, chewing on ice, eating sweets, and even brushing your teeth can also cause a sharp pain.
There are two different types of tooth sensitivity:
• Pulpal sensitivity: This is a reaction coming from the tooth’s pulp, which is comprised of a mass of blood vessels and nerves in the center of each tooth. Causes for pulpal sensitivity include decay or infection, a recent filling, excessive pressure from clenching or grinding your teeth, or even a cracked or broken tooth.
• Dentinal sensitivity: Normally, the dentin is covered by enamel above the gum line and by cementum below the gum line. Dentin is the middle layer of the tooth, and when exposed, is one of the main causes of tooth sensitivity. Cementum assists in tooth support; it is the bonelike connective tissue covering the root of the tooth. When the dentin is exposed, cold or hot temperatures can affect the nerve branches, causing sensitivity.
There are a few ways to help prevent tooth sensitivity, which include:
• Using a soft-bristled toothbrush. This will result in less abrasion (scraping away of the surface) on the tooth. Be sure to brush gently and carefully around the gum line so you don’t remove any gum tissue.
• Avoiding teeth grinding. If you tend to clench or grind your teeth, the best way to avoid that is to purchase a mouth guard. It is also wise to stop the habit as soon as possible.
• Avoiding certain foods. Foods that have high acidity levels gradually dissolve tooth enamel and lead to dentin exposure. It is best to softly brush your teeth after consuming acidic foods to prevent excessive wear.
• Maintaining good oral hygiene. It is important to stick to the proper guidelines of brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes. It is also essential to floss daily to prevent plaque buildup. Plaque buildup can wear away at the enamel and can cause breakdown of the bone supporting the tooth.
Your teeth are important – use these tips to help prevent tooth sensitivity