Health Matters: What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

If you experience sensitive teeth then you know the pain of eating something too cold or too hot.

Ice cream, as delicious as it is, is a huge trigger that lets people know whether or not they suffer from sensitive teeth.

I talked with an Essentia Health Oral Surgeon who broke down why some people feel that uncomfortable sensation even eating their everyday foods.

It’s uncomfortable and it’s very common.

“Sensitive in teeth happens when the protective enamel coating around the outside of the teeth or the cementum which is another type of coating that covers the root of the teeth has been lost and there’s exposure of the under surface or the dentin of the tooth,” says Dr. Ryan Smart, Essentia Health Oral Surgeon.

Enamel is what protects  the nerves on your teeth.

“The dentin as you can see by this photo here it has a lot of little channels here that communicate with the dental pulp. The dental pulp is a rich network of nerves and blood vessels that help form the tooth but also gives the tooth a sensation,” Smart explains.

Dr. Smart says there are many reasons why you may experience sensitive teeth.

“In general, sensitive teeth can be a signal of some of these other problems and they can be pretty minor, it doesn’t mean that there’s a major problem going on,” he says.

But grinding teeth, over brushing and eating acidic foods can make it worse.

“If your teeth are sensitive enough where it’s precluding people from eating normal foods like dairy products or cold things or it’s very sensitive such that they have a hard time brushing or they are having bleeding associated with it or tooth pain then they should be in to see their dentist,” says Smart.

Taking care of your oral hygiene is important, and that means not being fooled by the internet.

“There’s a study that recently came out sort of seem to negate the beneficial effects of flossing but I’ll assure you that flossing is a good thing to do. It helps remove plaque and decreases inflammation around teeth,” Smart says.

Dr. Smart says going to your dentist twice a year can help monitor all your oral issues.

There are also tooth pastes that are designed to strengthen you enamel you can brush with twice a day.