Teeth sensitivity originates from having the hard outer surface of your teeth, the enamel, worn down somehow so that the underlying dentin is exposed to elements like heat and cold. Because the dentin area of your teeth is filled with tiny nerve endings, you will have much greater sensitivity to those elements than if the enamel were present to provide protection.
What causes sensitive teeth?
There are a number of causes for sensitive teeth, beginning with over-aggressive brushing, which tends to wear away the protective enamel from your teeth. You can also lose enamel by frequently consuming acidic beverages and foods, which act to dissolve enamel. If your gums recede, or if you have broken teeth or exposed fillings, these can be other ways that the dentin becomes exposed, and sensitivity increases.
Sensitive teeth treatment
The first step in treating sensitive teeth
is to visit your dentist and to describe your symptoms. After your dentist determines the cause of your sensitivity, he/she will devise a program of treatment which addresses that cause. It may be that a worn tooth filling needs to be replaced, or that gum levels need to be restored. Fluoride gels can help to restore enamel, and there are quite a few de-sensitizing products available in drug stores that can be purchased.
Tips for people with sensitive teeth
There are actually quite a few tips
and tricks for sensitive teeth, and most of these can easily be put into practice. Firstly, you should try brushing with softer strokes, and using a tooth-sensitive paste when brushing. Changing your mouthwash to a high-fluoride brand can be helpful as well, and you should refrain from grinding your teeth if at all possible.
Avoid highly acidic beverages and foods as much as possible, and wait a half hour or so after eating before you brush – this will avoid pushing any acids deeper into the layer of dentin. You can also work with your dentist and ask for a fluoride treatment to strengthen enamel, or to have a gum graft performed if your gums have receded, and are exposing your teeth.
Do genetics play a role?
In short, yes, it is very possible that genetics can play a role
in having sensitive teeth. Genetics and sensitive teeth have long been linked by a condition known as enamel hypoplasia, wherein there is some defect in the enamel of the teeth. These defects show up as thinner enamel, or as pits and grooves in the enamel, which make it more vulnerable to attack by bacteria in foods and beverages. If your parents had problems with sensitive teeth, it is possible that you will too.
What you can do.
When you recognize that you have sensitive teeth, you should discuss your symptoms as soon as possible with your dentist. If your dentist can identify the cause of your sensitivity, appropriate steps can be taken to overcome it, and to strengthen the enamel of your teeth. Your dentist will advise you on the best steps to take to minimize your sensitivity, while also enhancing your enamel.