Millions of Americans suffer from sensitive teeth. According to a study that recently appeared in the Journal of the American Dental Association, as many as 1 in every 8 adults, or 12% of the population, experience “dentin hypersensitivity,” or sensitive teeth. Unfortunately, though lots of people suffer from sensitive teeth, many think that there’s nothing they can do about it; that it’s just something they have to live with. Luckily, that’s not true!
So what is “dentin hypersensitivity,” and what causes it? Well, if you’ve ever gotten a sudden jolt of pain in one or more of your teeth when you take a drink of coffee or a bite of ice cream, then chances are you might be experiencing tooth sensitivity. Sensitive teeth typically occur when something exposes the surface beneath the enamel of your tooth. This surface is called “dentin,” hence “dentin hypersensitivity.” Dentin is the inner part of your tooth and is made up of thousands of tiny tubes leading to the pulp at the center of your tooth, which is where the tooth’s nerves are located. When the dentin is exposed, sensations like heat, cold, sweet, or sour can travel directly through these tubes to reach the nerves in your tooth, resulting in that jolt of pain we mentioned.
Lots of things can lead to tooth sensitivity; from wear and tear to gum disease, tooth decay, or grinding or clenching. Pretty much anything that wears away at your enamel or causes your gums to recede can expose the dentin and lead to sensitive teeth. The main thing to remember is that sensitive teeth are almost always a warning sign. That, and they aren’t something you just have to live with. A trip to your friendly Overland Park family dentist can not only help you to identify the root cause of your sensitivity, but also treat it before it develops into a much worse problem.
So what is the solution for sensitive teeth? Well, it depends on what the cause of your sensitivity is. Most cases of tooth sensitivity can be treated with the same habits that you should already be following for good oral health: daily brushing and flossing, a good diet, and regular visits to your Overland Park dentist. Other causes of sensitive teeth may require things like a soft-bristled toothbrush, or a mouth guard to wear while you’re sleeping. There are even treatments such as bonding and dentin sealers that can help cover exposed dentin and reduce the symptoms of sensitive teeth.
If you’re one of the millions of people who live with sensitive teeth, the first step toward feeling better is to schedule an appointment with your Overland Park dentist. We can identify the cause of your sensitivity, and get you on the road to a beautiful and pain-free smile today!
This article brought to you by Watts Family Dental in Overland Park, Kansas. Our friendly office specializes in preventative dental care for the whole family. To make an appointment, please call (913) 338-3384 or click here to fill out our online contact form.