Do your teeth hurt when you drink from a cold drinking fountain or breathing in really cold air? No one likes having sensitive teeth. You never know exactly what will be too hot or cold and when it is going to strike. So what causes sensitive teeth?
To understand why your teeth are extra sensitive, you must first understand how your teeth are built. Each of your teeth has many layers. This is how your tooth is set up:
- The first layer of your tooth is the enamel. This is the white stuff you see that covers your tooth and is mostly made of calcium phosphate. It is very hard and therefore protects the more tender parts of your teeth.
- Right under the enamel is dentin. This is a group of living cells, so it is much more sensitive, but it does secrete a substance of hard minerals.
- The inside of the tooth, the pulp is where all the action is. This is where your tooth’s blood vessels and nerves reside. It is very soft and sensitive and should not be exposed.
The Cause of the Sensitivity
There are tiny little tubes in your tooth dentin. These tubes carry fluid, which when it moves can cause irritation of your tooth’s nerves. When the surfaces of these tubes are exposed to the elements, extreme temperatures or touch can cause you pain.
But why and how are these tubes exposed? What happened to the protective layer of enamel? Often it is eroded simply by the passing of time. Other times, the erosion process is accelerated by aggressive brushing, a toothbrush that is too hard, or toothpaste that is too abrasive. Grinding your teeth is a big no-no, as that is a great way to rid your teeth of enamel. Enamel can also be worn down through tooth decay and gum disease.
There are many other factors that can play into tooth sensitivity, such as whitening products or acidic foods. Your dentist will be able to help you determine the cause and find a solution that will work to help toughen up your teeth.