We’ve all noticed it from time to time – have some ice cream followed by good hot coffee and OUCH! – your tooth is telling you not to do that! But how do you know if your tooth sensitivity is a sign of (pardon the pun) a deep rooted problem?
Let’s start with a little quiz. What is the hardest substance in the human body?
b) The thigh bone, also known as the femur
c) Your hard-headed uncle’s skull
d) Tooth enamel
If you guessed tooth enamel, you’re not only on your way to a winning appearance on Jeopardy but you’re ready to understand tooth sensitivity.
The enamel that covers your teeth is an extremely hard substance and acts as a great protectant. Inside the enamel is something called dentin, which is a bit softer and actually has small hollow tubes leading right into the nerve chamber. Irritate that layer and your tooth will let you know! So if the enamel on your teeth is worn away, sensitivity can set in. The roots of your teeth are in a similar situation, and receding gums which cause the roots to be uncovered can cause sensitivity as well. So what can you do?
First of all, be gentle when you brush and always use a soft toothbrush. Lots of pressure and stiff bristles don’t clean your teeth any better and actually can wear away enamel and gums.
Some people find that acidic foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes can cause sensitivity, so avoid those if you are in that category.
Also, there are over-the-counter products, such as special toothpastes and rinses; that can help. Let us know and we’ll be glad to recommend the right one for you.
Unfortunately, many of the causes of tooth sensitivity are also signs of much larger dental problems. Things such as cavities, defective fillings or crowns, receding gums due to gum disease, grinding, and many other conditions can cause sensitivity and all of these things definitely need attention from a dental professional.
At Falmouth Dental Arts (portlandmainedentists.com and knockoutsmiles.com) we want you to be comfortable and have healthy teeth and gums! If tooth sensitivity or any other dental issues are causing you concern, please give us a call at 781-5900 and we will be glad to see how we can help. We want to get you comfortable again!