If you've ever felt a shooting pain when you eat something cold or hot, drink cold or hot liquids, or breathe in really cold air, you could be experiencing tooth sensitivity. Sensitive teeth are a very common problem, and one your dentist can effectively treat at your next appointment. Why are my teeth so sensitive? The sensitive interior parts of your teeth are normally protected by your gums and the enamel on the outside of your tooth. Tooth sensitivity is usually caused by either receding gums or damaged enamel.
Damaged Enamel The enamel on the outside your teeth, the hardest substance in your body, protects all parts of your tooth above the gumline. Though very strong, enamel can be damaged in a number of ways. Tooth decay can weaken it, trauma can break it or crack it, and chewing, clenching, or an improper bite can wear it down over time. Receding Gums Your gums help protect everything below the gumline by forming a tight strong seal where the teeth meet the gums. Gum disease and overly vigorous brushing can both cause gums to recede, or pull away from their normal position against the teeth. When these protections fail, the softer interior dentin layer of the tooth gets exposed. Dentin is softer than enamel and has pores and tubules that lead to the sensitive nerve of the tooth. How can my dentist treat my sensitive teeth Damaged enamel can be treated with bonding, a filling or a crown. If receding gums have caused the sensitivity, your dentist will address the gum disease issues or instruct you on proper brushing technique. Your dentist can also discuss specialized tooth pastes that can help by either desensitizing the teeth or by filling the pores and tubules in the dentin. Discuss all these options with your dentist at your next appointment.