Popsicles, ice cream, and other cold treats are sweet way to reward yourself after a busy day. That is until tooth sensitivity makes eating these sweet treats impossible. One out of eight Americans are dealing with tooth sensitivity to cold.
Tooth sensitivity or dentinal hypersensitivity is very common and anyone may have it due to unhealthy eating habits or as a side effect from another conditions or treatments.
What causes cold tooth sensitivity?
Dentin is the layer of material that lies immediately underneath the enamel of the tooth. It is one of the four major components of the tooth which comprises: The outer hard enamel. The dentin underneath the enamel. The dental pulp that lies soft and encased within the dentin.
Dentin is the sensitive soft layer of our tooth next to tooth enamel. It covers the tooth pulp where our nerves and blood vessels are located. Once it gets exposed due to weakened tooth enamel, you’ll start to experience tooth sensitivity. Here are the common culprits of tooth sensitivity due to damaged tooth enamel.
Tooth Decay Left Untreated Causing Tooth Sensitivity
When a tooth becomes decayed, one of the symptoms is tooth sensitivity. The early onset of tooth decay begins with a small hole or damage to tooth enamel. It may not be visible to the naked eye. Once bacteria gets through your enamel, the dentin (the soft sensitive layer or your tooth) will be exposed to the extreme temperatures of what you consume, sometimes even to cold air. Thus, resulting in sensitivity.
Brushing Aggressively and Using Toothpicks
Brushing and flossing are excellent habits to keep. However, your brushing technique is crucial. Aggressively brushing your teeth with a hard-bristled toothbrush can scratch your tooth enamel surface. Bacteria will take this opportunity to break down your enamel which causes sensitive or decayed teeth.
Toothpicks are widely known to help you remove food debris after you finish a meal. Dental floss is a way better options recommended by dentist because tooth picks can be too hard on your tooth enamel. Using a toothpick can cause surface scratches on your enamel. Tooth enamel can’t repair itself like other parts of the body. Once the enamel is scratched off or worn away, it cannot grow back on its own.
Grinding Teeth and Bruxism
When you are stressed, your body may react by grinding your teeth (also known as bruxism). Many of us do it on occasion, but some patients who work in a highly-stressful environment are more prone to grinding their teeth. Individuals who suffer from anxiety also tend to grind their teeth more.
Clenched jaws add pressure to your bite which will gradually wear down your teeth. Enamel can break from the constant force of teeth grinding. As enamel breaks down, it exposes your dentin which causes tooth sensitivity.
Chipped or Cracked Teeth
Using your teeth as tools, such as opening bottles or packages, can lead to chipped or cracked teeth. If you have even the smallest crack in your enamel, it can cause tooth sensitivity. Having a chipped or cracked tooth can put you at risk for a tooth infection because it allow bacteria to enter the inner layers of your teeth.
Exposed Tooth Root
The root of your tooth lies below the gum line. It houses nerves and blood vessel which are protected by a layer of cementum. When your gums or cementum becomes damaged, your tooth root gets exposed to everything you eat. Thus, leading to tooth sensitivity.
Teeth grinding, receding gums, and smoking are the most common causes of exposed tooth roots.
Teeth Whitening Sensitivity
Teeth whitening treatments may cause temporary tooth sensitivity due to the concentrated amount of hydrogen peroxide. Professional and over-the-counter whitening treatments can remove minerals and weaken your tooth which leads to tooth sensitivity.
Drinking fluoridated water or fluoride-rich foods and beverages, the minerals in your tooth can be replenished in no time. If tooth sensitivity is too excruciating after whitening your teeth, you can contact your dentist for special tooth paste.
Treatments for Tooth Sensitivity
Nobody deserves to endure the pain of tooth sensitivity. Below is a list of restorative options to save you from the perils of tooth sensitivity:
- Tooth fillings (composite, tooth colored fillings to treat tooth decay)
- Fluoride treatments (helps protect your enamel and prevent decay from happening)
- Dental bonding (the practice of using soft composite resin to fix minor chips or cracks on teeth)
- Home care advice (desensitizing toothpaste)
Bring back the joy of eating a popsicle or sipping a hot coffee by scheduling an appointment now. Improving your oral health is not only about having bright and white teeth but also for you to enjoy tasting new flavors and eating your favorite meals.