Taking The “Hype-R” Out Of Hypersensitivity

How many people have complained sometime in their life about sensitivity of teeth? A friend of mine drew my attention to this subject so I thought this would make a very good topic for a post.

The reasons for hypersensitivity of teeth are numerous and notorious, so i’ll just stick to the more common reasons that people mostly complain about. A little general info about the tooth structure is necessary to understand the reasons for hypersensitivity. The tooth is made up of 4……for lack of a better word…..”layers”, they are:

  1. Dentin which forms the main body of the tooth. It covers the pulp and forms the bulk of the tooth.
  2. Enamel which is the strongest substance produced by the human body. Yes, stronger than bone. It covers the dentin of the Crown of the tooth.
  3. Cementum which is a smooth material that is found surrounding the roots of the teeth and helps in its attachment to the bony socket of the jaws by the periodontal ligaments.
  4. Finally, the pulp which is the main supply of blood and nutrients to the tooth and is the reason for any pain or discomfort caused by teeth. The Pulp and dentin are considered a single biological component.

The Basic Anatomy of The Tooth

Now that we’re well acquainted with the basic anatomy of a tooth lets get down to business. Hypersensitivity occurs due to wearing away of the Enamel of the tooth, exposing the underlying Dentin which is sensitive to the changes in temperature and pH of the oral cavity. Many different factors can lead to wearing away of the enamel from the tooth such as:

Drinking carbonated drinks that contain carbonic acid of phosphoric acid can cause erosion of the enamel and exposure of the underlying dentin leading to hypersensitivity. Eating “diet friendly” food, such as citric fruits can also cause erosion ( let that be a warning to all you diet freaks out there!”. The biggest mistake you can do is brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking acidic food, as this accelerates the erosion process. What you SHOULD do is, rinse your mouth with water and wait for at least one hour before brushing your teeth. Gastric reflux with repeated vomiting can also cause erosion of the enamel from the tooth and sensitivity.

The abnormal wearing away of the tooth structure is called Abrasion. A number of factors can cause abrasion of teeth, such as incorrect or vigorous tooth brushing, no i’m not telling you not to brush your teeth, what i am telling you is that you should use a soft or medium tooth brush…NEVER use a hard tooth brush! trust me it’s useless. Also, you don’t need to cover the brush with tooth paste, a mere 1cm of tooth paste is more than enough…seriously. Another type of abrasion is seen in people who grind or clench their teeth habitually. These are called parafunctional habits and they have really destructive effects on your teeth. If you suffer from parafunctional habits such as Bruxism ( grinding your teeth ) you should consider having a night guard made to protect your teeth from the excessive wear caused by this habit.

Once the enamel goes bye bye and the dentin is left to fend for itself you start to feel a sharp pain whenever you drink hot or cold beverages, or eat sweets and what not. This is because dentin and pulp are considered a single organ and so they both feel pain. Once you suspect you’re suffering from hypersensitivity you should immediately stop and think what could be causing it, once you find the culprit stop the habit immediately and start using desensitizing tooth paste such as Sensodyne. This should help reduce the sensitivity. If however the erosion or abrasion is too severe, you may need to have a Crown fitted to protect the remaining tooth structure from further destruction.

I’ll be posting more about hypersensitivity and how to treat it in later posts =).

For any questions or comments regarding hypersensitivity or any other problem feel free to leave a comment and i’ll get back to you as soon as humanly possible. =)~

Teeth can be cool too.

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