Tooth sensitivity is not a dental condition in itself. It is a symptom, and can indicate a wide variety of issues. The severity depends on the exact cause, and so does the treatment, but all sensitive teeth have one thing in common—they require immediate dental attention to help prevent serious damage to your oral cavity. Dr. Ryan Hussong, your Polk City, Iowa, dentist, explains some of the common causes of tooth sensitivity.
Causes of Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity can be initiated in a variety of ways. Poor oral hygiene can lead to weak tooth enamel, which can expose the dentin—the tissue directly under enamel. The surface of dentin contains microscopic tubules that allow sensory information to travel to the center of your tooth, or pulp. This fleshy center contains your tooth’s nerves and blood vessels. If your gums become irritated and recede from your teeth, the roots can be directly exposed to stimulation from hot, cold, or sweet foods. The roots are not protected by tooth enamel, and are susceptible to irritation and bacterial infection. Many factors can lead to the conditions that cause tooth sensitivity. Some of the most common factors include:
- Brushing your teeth too hard, or using a hard-bristled toothbrush, can wear away your tooth enamel and irritate your gums into recession.
- Swollen and red gum tissue, such as is common with gum disease, can affect the ligaments that hold your gums to your teeth. When this tissue is disturbed, it can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth and expose the roots.
- Cracked or fractured teeth can fill with bacterial plaque. These bacteria can enter the pulp and cause inflammation.
- Bruxism—the habit of clenching or grinding your teeth—can excessively wear down tooth enamel, exposing the dentin.
- Eating foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates provides oral bacteria fuel to produce acid. Organic acids are the main cause for tooth enamel erosion.
If you are experiencing sensitivity in one or more of your teeth, schedule a consultation with Dr. Hussong by calling Cornerstone Dental at (515) 984-6001. We serve families from Des Moines, Polk City, Ames, Ankeny, Alleman, Bondurant, Grimes, Johnston, and the surrounding communities.