Tooth sensitivity is a common condition. It is experienced as a painful sensation in the teeth, often occurring after eating or drinking something hot, cold, sweet or acidic. Normally, the dentin is covered by enamel, but over time, enamel weakens or gums recede, providing less protection from external stimulation. The gums can also recede over time, exposing the underlying root surface dentin.
The dentin contains a large number of tubules, microscopic pathways that run from the outside of the tooth to the nerve in the center. When the dentin is exposed, these tubes can be stimulated by changes in temperature or certain foods.
Exposure of the dentin is due to a number of factors. Some common causes are:
In addition, certain dental treatments can cause tooth sensitivity, either during or after the procedure.
The first step in dealing with dental sensitivity is to find out what the cause is; a dental professional can help you with this. If your sensitivity is due to exposed dentin, there are a number of steps you can take to help reduce the sensitivity. These can include:
In the end, whether you need an in-office procedure or over-the-counter products, the most important step is to see a dental professional so that he or she can determine the cause of the tooth sensitivity and help you find a solution.