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Tooth Sensitivity: Causes, Treatments and Prevention

Sensitive teeth causes some strife when you're enjoying your meals. But what causes sensitive teeth? And what home remedies can you use to treat it?

Sensitive teeth are a surefire way to turn an enjoyable meal into a world of pain. And quickly. Imagine eating shave ice and suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re hit with pain coming into all angles of your teeth!

What causes tooth sensitivity?

To understand sensitive teeth causes, let’s take a little refresher on the parts of a tooth. There are three layers of the tooth: the enamel and cementum form the outermost layer, followed by the dentin, then the dental pulp. 

  • The outer layers (enamel and cementum) are usually harder and sturdier to protect the teeth from environmental threats. By limiting access to the whole tooth, these outer layers also help reduce pain or tooth discomfort you might feel. 
  • The dental pulp, on the other hand, is your tooth’s innermost layer. While this network of nerves and blood vessels don’t play too much of a role once the tooth is fully formed, it does help during the development stage. More importantly, it’s what feels the sensations transmitted to the teeth.
  • Finally, the dentin is the mid-layer that forms most of the teeth. It sends the sensations through its network of hollow canals to the dental pulp. 

When it comes to what causes sensitive teeth, the dentin plays a significant role. Because it’s the layer of the tooth that transmits sensation, the more exposed it is, the more sensitive your teeth feel. And these sensitive teeth causes can vary. 

For some, tooth pain happens because of receding gums. Or tooth decay that’s eaten through most of your tooth enamel. Or maybe a general thinning of the outer layers in general. Which of the home remedies for sensitive teeth you use, then, will depend on what causes sensitive teeth.  

Gum recession can also 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 tooth’s surface 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.
  • Your dentist may recommend a root canal if sensitivity has become severe and persistent.

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

Home Remedies for Sensitive Teeth

While dentin exposure generally causes sensitive teeth, getting the right solution for sensitive teeth still depends on its exact reason. These reasons include:

  • Enamel wear
  • Cavities
  • Chipped tooth
  • Receding gums

For the most part, tooth sensitivity should go away once you treat the exact cause. And, for the most part, a trip to the dental office should solve the problem. The more severe the reason, the more you need to book that appointment.

But what if you have a minor case of sensitive teeth? Or what if you can’t see a dentist right away? In that case, your home remedies for sensitive teeth should stave it over for the moment. In the meantime, here’s what you can do:

  • Use fluoride toothpaste. If you have a thin enamel case in its earliest stages, a dose of fluoride should help reverse the effects. And, consequently, make your teeth feel less sensitive. Better yet, use one with a desensitizing agent. 
  • Gargle some saltwater. Saltwater isn’t just right for a sore throat or canker sores in the throat. Its anti-inflammatory properties can also reduce any swelling that comes with sensitive teeth causes. As a bonus, the salt can also disinfect any areas affected by tooth decay. 

How to Prevent Tooth Sensitivity?

Keeping the right oral hygiene routine 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 avoid sugary and acidic foods.

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


References:

  • https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/tooth-sensitivity
  • https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sensitive-teeth
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/sensitive-teeth
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