Each tooth is comprised of the crown and the root as it’s main components. The crown is covered by a thin layer of enamel above the gum line and the roots are covered with cementum. When our mouth is working in sync within our biological realm everything seems to work in harmony. Once the normal biology is interrupted by local and systemic events, this functionality changes and we see the deviation from the norm. “Sensitive teeth” is the most common chief complaint encountered in any dental setting whether it is in a dental school, a private practice or in a hospital.
If you have the above, you have become a member of the club in which billions of people brush their teeth using improper brushing techniques. In the above photo we see that the enamel and a big chunk of dentin is lost. This may progress even further and deeper. It may or may not involve the pulp. Why is it so common? Because we were never taught how to brush correctly in the first place. Oral Hygiene continues to be not taught in schools across the World. This is the most neglected part of the body. All we need to concentrate is on preventive and periodic care. Of course, we do not care until something happens. We have made this a habit. We have become used to spending billions on getting treatment, but we are reluctant to INVEST our money on prevention. If tooth sensitivity is that common and has been there for all these decades, why has there been no relief in place for it? There are many products that are available out there for dentists to use and they are available to be applied to based on the scenario that is presented. The causes for it are multi-factorial and the treatment is usually symptomatic. There is no definitive treatment for it. Desensitizers, tooth pastes, composites, etc are used based on it’s clinical applications. It’s not a one sized fits all scenario.
Let’s analyze the possible reasons for tooth sensitivity.
- Hard brushing
- Improper technique
- Acidic action
- Gum disease
- Recession of the gums
- Spacing between teeth
- Rotated and tilted teeth
- clenching and bruxism (night grinding)
- Teeth which have drifted
- Abrasion from denture clasps
The most common reason being improper tooth brushing techniques, the direction of force and also brushing with a ton of force. This results in the loss of enamel and also causing the exposure to the underlying dentin. The dentin has tubules with nerves within itself connecting it from the exterior of the root surface to the pulp within. This is how sensation impulses are conducted within the confines of the tooth. This message is then carried to the brain.When the dentin is exposed to the exterior environment meaning your oral environment, conduction is rapid. This may also depend on the status of the cementum covering the root surface.
Certain foods mainly cold and sweets seem to cause the most effect in promoting sensitive teeth. What brings a patient in to see the Dentist? When the weather gets cold and if a patient is a mouth breather, the passage of air from and to the mouth may bring about tooth sensitivity. In some cases even the action of touch may trigger a response.
How do we tackle tooth sensitivity?
- Brush gently. If you are changing your toothbrush once a month you are brushing too hard.
- Brush right. Be aware of brushing techniques.
- Ask you Dentist. Ask for a demo.
- Prevent gum disease by going for your periodic visits to your dentist, preferably every 3 months.
- if you have gum disease, get it treated immediately and then be on a maintenance regimen.
- If you clench or grind your teeth, you may need a night guard based on the severity. Also avoid hard foods, that may include candy.
- Watch what you eat. This may include ice cubes, hard nuts etc. Perfectly normal teeth do crack when exposed to higher forces.
- In some cases restoration and even crowns may be an indication.
- Some foods that are acidic in nature may bring about tooth sensitivity. Minimize or avoid it if you seem to be affected by it.
- Sugar may be a triggering factor in bringing about tooth sensitivity. If you wish to avoid them, please do so It may be good for your systemic health as well.
Any disease that is prevented from the get go is the way to go. It’s saves us money, time, pain and all sorts of discomfort. As Humans we have been sucked into the business of modern life. In the process we have forgotten ourselves completely. We have lost sight of our health. We are consuming anything and everything thus abusing our teeth in the process.
Billions of dollars are spent each and every day Worldwide on treating Dental diseases. This is entirely due to our own neglect of ourselves. We ourselves are to blame. Prevention, on the other hand costs us a fraction of what we are currently spending. As a bonus, we do not have to face the pain of going through the different procedures. It may also be lighter on your wallet.
See your Dentist in good times, so you do not give the bad times a chance to appear. It’s your mouth. Take care of it. Because no one else will.