Laurie DeRosa RDH
In order to understand why your teeth are sensitive it helps to understand the parts of a tooth.
The outside layer of a tooth is the enamel. The layer underneath the enamel is the dentin and it is this layer that covers the nerve. The tooth is surrounded by the gums. What happens with tooth sensitivity is that over time the enamel wears down or thins out and the gums recede, thus exposing the roots. There are many pores or tubes that lead from the nerve in the center of the tooth to the outside. When our enamel wears down the sensations from the outside are quickly sent through pores of the dentin and felt by the nerves.
There are many reasons for our dentin to wear down. Brushing with a medium or hard toothbrush or using an abrasive toothpaste will cause a loss of enamel as well as recession of the gums. Soda, which contains a large amount of acid, will erode the enamel leaving the dentin exposed. Recession of the gums, exposing the roots of the teeth, as well as plaque left along the gum line will cause sensitivity. Some patients clench or grind their teeth during the day or when they sleep and this wears down the enamel. Also, some whitening products can cause sensitivity.
What can I do to reduce my sensitivity?
-use a soft bristle tooth brush
-choose a toothpaste that is not abrasive
-choose a toothpaste that is targeted for sensitive teeth. Be aware the toothpaste does not
have to contain fluoride.
-if the tooth has lost too much enamel it may be necessary for your dentist to place a filling
to replace the enamel.
Remember, it is important to have regularly check-ups with your dentist and preventive maintenance with your hygienist to ensure good oral health.
Laurie DeRosa, RDH, is a Dental Hygienist with the biological dental team at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, an integrative medicine and dental center serving the Washington DC metro area. Using the latest in dental technology, her goal is to help the dental patient understand the important connection between their oral health and their overall health.