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Tooth Sensitivity: Causes, Treatments and Prevention

What is tooth sensitivity?

Dentin hypersensitivity or tooth sensitivity causes pain due to the exposure of the inner tooth layer or dentin. Dentin contains microscopic tubules. When the protective layer, the enamel, wears out and exposes the dentin, cold and heat reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. As a result, this can trigger pain.

There are over 3 million cases of dentin hypersensitivity in the US each year.

According to the National Health Institute, the condition has a prevalence of 12.3 percent among patients. An average of 3.5 teeth is hypersensitive.

Tooth sensitivity is also higher among 18- to 44-year-olds than those over 65-years-old. It is also more frequent in women than men.

People love ice cream nod in agreement.

According to statistics portal Statista, the sales of ice cream from May 2016 to May 2017 amounted to about 6.6 billion US dollars.

An average American eats more than 23 pounds of ice cream a year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).

But not all everyone may be enjoying that creamy, sweet, and cold bite of ice cream because of dentin hypersensitivity.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

Gum recession can cause the exposure of the dentin, resulting in hypersensitivity. Brushing too hard may also lead to teeth sensitivity because it can wear the enamel. Additionally, a recent dental procedure like a dental filling or teeth whitening session can temporarily cause mild tooth sensitivity.

The consumption of sugary and acidic foods causes oral bacteria’s rapid growth. Over time, if not given attention, it can lead to the deterioration of the enamel and tooth decay. A cavity can also cause teeth sensitivity because it can result in the exposure of the dentin. Other causes of teeth sensitivity are teeth grinding and tooth fractures.

How to diagnose tooth sensitivity?

Dentin hypersensitivity is usually self-diagnosable. It is typically triggered by eating cold or hot food and drinks, eating sugary and sour foods, breathing in cold air, and brushing. When these activities cause sharp pain that worsens with pressure, there is a tendency that your teeth are sensitive.

How to treat tooth sensitivity?

Fortunately, teeth sensitivity is treatable and usually resolves within months. A variety of treatments are also available upon the recommendation of the dentist. Usual treatments include desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride gel, crowns, inlays or bonding, surgical gum grafts, or root canals.

  • Desensitizing toothpaste contains compounds helpful in blocking the transmission of pain from the surface of the tooth to the nerve.
  • Fluoride gel helps in strengthening the enamel. Thus, this helps prevent it from wearing away and exposing the dentin. Aside from this, fluoride gel reduces the transmission of discomfort.
  • A crown, inlay, or bonding is recommended to correct a decayed tooth.
  • A surgical gum graft will defend the root and reduce sensitivity if gum tissue has been lost from the root.
  • A root canal may be advised by your dentist if sensitivity has become severe and persistent.

Also, to prevent the worsening of teeth sensitivity, it is better to take precautions.

How to prevent Tooth Sensitivity?

Keeping the right oral hygiene routine significantly helps in fighting off sensitivity. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash is vital to oral health.

If you are suffering from teeth grinding, you can opt for a mouth protector. Watch your diet by including teeth-healthy foods like celery, carrots, apples, and cheese and by avoiding sugary and acidic foods.

For the right diagnosis and the proper treatments, a consultation with your dentist is a must.

Date Published: October 6, 2014

Last Updated: March 8, 2019


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