What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

The Anatomy of the Tooth

We often forget about the teeth because they mostly just sit there in the front of our mouths. What we don’t realize is how much they actually do. They are instrumental in forming words in our speech and also in chewing food. We hardly take notice of them until something happens, like developing sensitive teeth.

Here are a few facts about the teeth. A tooth is made up of three layers: the enamel, the dentin and the pulp. The outer layer of the tooth is the enamel. It is the thin but hard protective layer of the tooth. Once enamel is removed from the tooth, it doesn’t come back. This leaves the inner parts of the tooth exposed to bacteria and decay.

The dentin is the inner layer. It is usually of a yellowish color but it can be brown or even darker. This layer contains a tubular system that leads into the inner pulp. The pulp is where the nerve endings are in the tooth. People who have sensitive teeth are keenly feeling pain in these nerve endings.

Sensitivity in the Teeth

Gaining access to the nerves is what causes pain. How do certain things affect the teeth and lead to problems? Here are a few causes:

* Brushing technique - They create toothbrushes that are soft, medium and hard. For the sake of your teeth, use a soft bristle brush. This in combination with a lighter brushing technique will prevent damage to the gum line and the enamel covering of the teeth. Brushing too hard can also lead to the gums being damaged and receding. The part of the tooth that the gum covers is not covered with enamel and is open to sensitivity issues.

* Gingivitis - This is inflammation of the gums due to tooth decay, pregnancy, plaque and other bacteria. If the gums recede (just like above), the nerves are exposed.

* Tooth decay - This allows bacteria to enter the tooth and begin to rot it. This rot can also affect the gums. As the tooth erodes away, the nerves are exposed and can lead to pain when eating, drinking or even in cold weather.

* Plaque - Plaque is a yellowish build-up on the bottom of the teeth near the gum line due to deposits of food left behind when eating and after brushing. Gums may recede from this too.

* Grinding of the teeth - Grinding can lead to erosion of the enamel, the protective outer covering. This leaves the more sensitive dentin exposed.