You can still feel a slight trace of pain on your lower molars as you try to recall how you did not finish your two scoops of your favourite chocolate ice cream at the ice cream parlour. You never had this ache on your teeth before which is why you were terribly disappointed that when the chocolate touched your molars, it was not the scintillating taste of the ice cream that you experienced but a throbbing pain that you could not stand.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Probably one of your deep frustrations is having to deal with tooth sensitivity, a condition of the teeth characterised by some sharp pain when taking in hot or cold food and drinks or even cold air, as described by Dr. Craig Valentine of the Academy of general Dentistry.
Sensitive teeth are usually caused by the wearing out or bruising of the tooth enamel covering resulting in the exposure of the tooth roots. It can also be due to a tooth chipping, a tooth cavity, or a crack created while some filling is done. The sensitivity is experienced every time you take in hot or cold beverages or food, or every time you do certain activities like brushing and flossing.
Thinning of the Tooth Enamel
It surely is discomforting to have sensitive teeth, as it lessens your desire to eat and drink. It is very important then to know what specific activities are causing this sensitivity. Analysing the condition, it is clear that tooth sensitivity is directly a result of enamel loss or thinning of the tooth covering to the point that the core tissue of the tooth called the dentin is exposed creating deep sensations of pain.
Causes of Enamel Loss
What then causes enamel loss? One is gum recession resulting from too hard brushing or brushing the wrong way. Another is tooth chipping or cracking, which is the result of biting hard foods, grinding, or clenching the teeth. Enamel erosion can also be due to the action of the acid from fruits and acidic substances. It can also be caused by the attachment of plaque on the tooth, which weakens the tooth cover and makes it prone to cavities.
Preventing Loss Prevents Sensitivity
According to Dr. Valentine, damage to the enamel is irreversible. Enamel does not grow back unlike skin or hair. We need to prevent its loss, and the first important step is to observe proper oral hygiene. This means using the correct brushing techniques, and following a diet that could be beneficial to our oral and overall health.
On brushing your teeth, be sure that your toothbrush fits the condition of your teeth. Select a soft-bristled brush and avoid brushing your teeth immensely hard so as not to affect the covering. Follow the circular technique, with the brush held at 45 degrees against the teeth. Reach into the inner parts of the mouth behind the molars to make sure that no food particles are left . Of course, use fluoride toothpaste, as fluoride helps fight, treat, and prevent tooth decay.
Reduce your intake of acidic foods and drinks. If you cannot avoid doing this, be sure to wash away the acid by rinsing your mouth with water after eating or drinking. Allow some time for the remaining acid to lose its essence before you brush your teeth to protect the enamel covering.
Would you know if you are grinding or clenching your teeth while you sleep? Dr. Valentine says that teeth grinding and clenching can create a breach on the teeth’s walls that may lead to cracking or the start of a cavity. He suggests wearing a mouth guard while sleeping.
Correcting Tooth Sensitivity
As we have known, it is possible that tooth sensitivity would occur regardless of the vigilance you put in. What can you do if you have sensitive teeth? Please remember that the first sign is a warning signal of a possibly more serious problem if it is not attended to immediately. You may still save the tooth (and yourself) and prevent further damage. Your first line of defense then is to see your dentist right away so that the two of you can develop an appropriate dental treatment plan.
The dentist may recommend a special desensitising toothpaste that, when applied a number of times, can lessen or block the painful sensation from the tooth core. Or he/she may apply a certain type of fluoride gel that can help strengthen the tooth enamel. He/She would probably recommend that you continue using this fluoride gel at home.
If the problem is more serious than that, such as a tooth decay where the root is exposed, the dentist might apply bonding resin to the root surfaces and/or apply a crown. If the gum has receded from the root, he/she may do a gum graft to protect the exposed root. Or if the dentist thinks none of these earlier procedures would totally remove the sensitivity, she could recommend the option of removing tooth sensitivity, which is root canal.
Of course, all of these options are applicable and workable only when you go to your dentist. Certainly, your dentist would want you to be relieved of your tooth sensitivity dilemmas and all other concerns that have to do with your teeth. While he/she would like to see you more often, she would want that your visits to his/her dental office are leading you to your common goal, which is achieving perfect dental health for you and your family.