If you wince with pain after sipping a hot cup of coffee or chewing a piece of ice, chances are that you may suffer from dentin hypersensitivity. This is commonly known as sensitive teeth.
Hot and cold temperature changes cause your teeth to expand and contract. Over time, your teeth can develop microscopic cracks that allow these sensations to seep through to the nerves. Exposed areas of the tooth can cause pain and even affect or change your eating, drinking, and breathing habits.
Sensitive teeth result when the underlying layer of your teeth, the dentin, becomes exposed. This can happen on the chewing surface of the tooth as well as at the gum line. In some cases, sensitive teeth are the result of gum disease, years of unconsciously clenching or grinding your teeth, or improper or too vigorous brushing.
Abrasive toothpastes are sometimes the culprit of sensitive teeth. Ingredients found in some whitening toothpastes that lighten and remove stains from enamel, and sodium pyrophosphate, the key ingredient in tartar-control toothpastes, may increase tooth sensitivity.
A desensitising toothpaste may alleviate the problem. If that doesn’t help, you may need treatment from your dentist. Sometimes, a sensitive tooth may be confused by a patient for a cavity or abscess that is not yet visible. Your dentist will be able to properly diagnose your condition.