What are the top causes of sensitive teeth?

Does a sip of hot cocoa, or breathing cold air cause you to experience tooth discomfort? If so, you might be experiencing sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is when you get a sharp or sudden pain in the nerve endings of your teeth. Many people experience this, but what causes it?

First, let’s dive into the anatomy of the tooth to explain why teeth can become sensitive. Underneath the outer layers (enamel and cementum) of your teeth lies an inner layer of material called dentin. The dentin contains small hollow tubes leading straight to the tooth’s nerve center. When the dentin is exposed, the small tubules allow heat and cold, or acidic and sticky foods to reach the nerves inside the tooth. This results in tooth sensitivity.

According to the American Dental Association, some culprits for tooth sensitivity include:

  • Gum disease – inflamed gum tissue can cause sensitivity due to the loss of supporting ligaments, which exposes the root surface that leads directly to the nerve of the tooth
  • Acidic foods – causes enamel erosion and dentin exposure
  • Fractured teeth – can expose the dentin to the elements
  • Tooth grinding –may cause most or all of your teeth to feel sensitive
  • Tooth decay – also known as cavities

Fortunately, several treatments are available for tooth sensitivity.  Make an appointment with your dentist to find the best treatment for you.

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