Tooth sensitivity affects millions of people at some point in their life. The most common symptoms of tooth sensitivity come in the form of pain or discomfort in reaction to hot or cold sensations. The causes for tooth sensitivity vary, and some of them are easier to treat than others. Tooth sensitivity can also be indicative of a more serious dental problem. Let’s take a look at some facts about tooth sensitivity.
In order to prevent tooth discomfort or sensitivity, it is critical to have an understanding of the anatomy and structure of your child’s teeth. The hard, shiny outer layer of your child’s teeth is called enamel. The function of enamel is to protect the softer, porous layer below, which is called dentin. Dentin is protected by a thin, hard layer called cementum on the part of your child’s tooth that is rooted below the gums. The root canal, which is inside the center of their tooth is filled with a substance called the pulp, which is made up of blood vessels and nerves.
Tooth sensitivity and pain occur when dentin becomes exposed & heat or cold is able to penetrate through it & irritate the nerve of your child’s tooth. Dentin can become exposed when enamel & cementum wear away. Receding gums can also cause the dentin to become exposed.
There are a few ways that enamel can be eroded over time:
- A buildup of bacteria caused by poor oral hygiene can erode enamel and cause it to decay.
- Brushing too hard or using a hard bristle toothbrush, can also contribute to the erosion of enamel.
- Highly acidic foods such as soda and energy drinks can erode enamel.
- Nighttime teeth grinding can also cause enamel erosion.
Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by a crack or a cavity in your child’s tooth. If your child experiences intense sensitivity that is persistent for multiple days, be sure to make an appointment for them with Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Point Falls, Idaho, and Spokane Valley, Washington as soon as you can so that we can look for decay or damage.
Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by fillings that may have become loose or developed tooth decay around them. Fluids can get under & around the filling & irritate the nerve through the dentin. If you find that one of your child’s teeth with a filling has become increasingly sensitive, schedule a checkup with our office immediately so we can see if the filling needs to be replaced.
Some people also experience tooth sensitivity after dental procedures, particularly professional teeth whitening or bleaching. People with sensitive teeth can also experience irritation caused by chemicals that are present in some tooth-whitening toothpaste.
Tooth sensitivity is also a symptom of gum disease. Gum disease causes gums to pull away from the teeth, leaving the dentin exposed.
One of the best treatments for sensitive teeth is a change in oral care routine. If your child brushes too hard or uses a hard bristle toothbrush, try switching to a soft bristle brush & brushing more gently. If your child experiences sensitivity when using a whitening toothpaste, try switching to an anti-sensitivity toothpaste that also contains fluoride, which helps remineralize & strengthen tooth enamel. These changes can decrease your child’s tooth sensitivity over time.
If you still experience a level of sensitivity that causes discomfort, contact Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Point Falls, Idaho, and Spokane Valley, Washington. Our dentists may be able to provide treatments such as topical anti-sensitivity paste, that can help lessen your child’s discomfort.