by Dr. Casey Lau
09.21.2021

Why So Sensitive? Understanding the Causes, Treatments, and Prevention of Tooth Sensitivity

We've all been there. You're handed a double scoop of your favorite ice cream. You take the cone and dive right in, and then, "I'm dying. Surely I must be dying" flashes through your brain. Because as soon as that cold deliciousness hits your mouth, a sharp burst of unreal pain washes over you, and you're not sure you'll ever recover.

 

That's right. I'm talking about tooth sensitivity.

 

 

How did this happen?

 

Your teeth have a lot of nerve, Literally. There are actual nerves inside your teeth, and when they feel something, whether that be heat, cold, acidic foods, sugar, etc., they react. And not in a good way. If you have a broken tooth or a huge cavity, the nerve itself may be unprotected. But more commonly, it's the dentin or cementum that's exposed.

 

Now the dentin is the layer of material directly below the tooth's enamel. Our teeth are made up of a mineral called hydroxyapatite. When this wears away, the dentin is exposed, and its dentinal tubules send a warning signal to your tooth's nerve. Think of these tubes as little gossipy messengers that immediately report back to the nerves when they feel hot or cold temperatures.

 

Your dentin can be weakened through normal wear and tear, exposure to acids, or demineralization. For example, every time you eat something sweet, you feed the bacteria in your mouth, and in return, it releases acids - acids that erode and demineralize the protective enamel or dentin. (And you wonder why dentists are such sticklers for brushing your teeth?) 

 

Much like dentin, the cementum also throws a fit when it senses extreme temperatures. Found in the roots of our teeth, it can suffer the same demineralization. Combine that with the fact that our gums naturally recess as we age and leave our roots exposed, and we're fighting tooth sensitivity from all angles.

 

 

Help! What can I do to treat this?

 

Never fear! You are not doomed to live a life without ice cream sundaes and hot bowls of soup.

 

There are treatments you can try to desensitize and remineralize your teeth, like calcium phosphate products or dentist-prescribed high fluoridated toothpaste. Here at Elim, a sustainable oral health care company founded by my wife and me, we use nano-hydroxyapatite to combat sensitivity. It's a mouthful of a word (see what I did there?), but simply put, it's a mineral that closely mimics the hydroxyapatite that already exists in your teeth. Unlike fluoride, it's safe to swallow and has been clinically proven to remineralize your teeth at the correct formulations. With more and more people seeking alternatives to fluoridated toothpaste, it's a great option whether you have tooth sensitivity or not. Plus, it contains no milk products, so it's perfect for those with dairy intolerances.

 

If the problem runs a bit deeper, like your dentin or cementum is exposed, your dentist will likely recommend something to cover those unprotected areas, like replacing the fillings.

 

Worst case scenario, the nerve itself will need to be treated to get rid of the sensitivity. Yes, I'm talking about a root canal, the most dreaded of all dental procedures. And nobody wants to go down that road.

 

 

Alright, so how do I stop teeth sensitivity from happening?

 

The bad news is some tooth sensitivity is just going to be plain old unavoidable, and this is why it's so critical to do whatever you can to prevent additional damage. Here are three easy steps you can immediately put into practice:

 

  1. Your best line of defense against developing tooth sensitivity is...SURPRISE!... regular brushing and flossing. Yes, it's that easy. This will keep the bacteria in your mouth from releasing too much acid - acid which is anxiously waiting to feast on your teeth and cause decay.
  2. Avoid acidic foods that can demineralize and damage your teeth, like wine and citrus fruits.
  3. And finally, make sure you are using quality oral care products that can help reverse some of the damage done by everyday use. If you've not yet found a product you like, we'd love you to try Elims toothpaste. As mentioned above, I firmly believe in fluoride alternatives like nano-hydroxyapatite to help remineralize our teeth.

 

Tooth sensitivity, especially in extreme cases, can really decrease your quality of life. And there's no need to "grin and bear it" because it's certainly not a problem that will go away on its own. Prevent what you can, treat what you must, and listen to the advice of your healthcare professionals.

 

Until next time,

 Dr. Casey

 

 

Why So Sensitive? Understanding the Causes, Treatments, and Prevention of Tooth Sensitivity

We've all been there. You're handed a double scoop of your favorite ice cream. You take the cone and dive right in, and then, "I'm dying. Surely I must be dying" flashes through your brain. Because as soon as that cold deliciousness hits your mouth, a sharp burst of unreal pain washes over you, and you're not sure you'll ever recover.

 

That's right. I'm talking about tooth sensitivity.

 

 

How did this happen?

 

Your teeth have a lot of nerve, Literally. There are actual nerves inside your teeth, and when they feel something, whether that be heat, cold, acidic foods, sugar, etc., they react. And not in a good way. If you have a broken tooth or a huge cavity, the nerve itself may be unprotected. But more commonly, it's the dentin or cementum that's exposed.

 

Now the dentin is the layer of material directly below the tooth's enamel. Our teeth are made up of a mineral called hydroxyapatite. When this wears away, the dentin is exposed, and its dentinal tubules send a warning signal to your tooth's nerve. Think of these tubes as little gossipy messengers that immediately report back to the nerves when they feel hot or cold temperatures.

 

Your dentin can be weakened through normal wear and tear, exposure to acids, or demineralization. For example, every time you eat something sweet, you feed the bacteria in your mouth, and in return, it releases acids - acids that erode and demineralize the protective enamel or dentin. (And you wonder why dentists are such sticklers for brushing your teeth?) 

 

Much like dentin, the cementum also throws a fit when it senses extreme temperatures. Found in the roots of our teeth, it can suffer the same demineralization. Combine that with the fact that our gums naturally recess as we age and leave our roots exposed, and we're fighting tooth sensitivity from all angles.

 

 

Help! What can I do to treat this?

 

Never fear! You are not doomed to live a life without ice cream sundaes and hot bowls of soup.

 

There are treatments you can try to desensitize and remineralize your teeth, like calcium phosphate products or dentist-prescribed high fluoridated toothpaste. Here at Elim, a sustainable oral health care company founded by my wife and me, we use nano-hydroxyapatite to combat sensitivity. It's a mouthful of a word (see what I did there?), but simply put, it's a mineral that closely mimics the hydroxyapatite that already exists in your teeth. Unlike fluoride, it's safe to swallow and has been clinically proven to remineralize your teeth at the correct formulations. With more and more people seeking alternatives to fluoridated toothpaste, it's a great option whether you have tooth sensitivity or not. Plus, it contains no milk products, so it's perfect for those with dairy intolerances.

 

If the problem runs a bit deeper, like your dentin or cementum is exposed, your dentist will likely recommend something to cover those unprotected areas, like replacing the fillings.

 

Worst case scenario, the nerve itself will need to be treated to get rid of the sensitivity. Yes, I'm talking about a root canal, the most dreaded of all dental procedures. And nobody wants to go down that road.

 

 

Alright, so how do I stop teeth sensitivity from happening?

 

The bad news is some tooth sensitivity is just going to be plain old unavoidable, and this is why it's so critical to do whatever you can to prevent additional damage. Here are three easy steps you can immediately put into practice:

 

  1. Your best line of defense against developing tooth sensitivity is...SURPRISE!... regular brushing and flossing. Yes, it's that easy. This will keep the bacteria in your mouth from releasing too much acid - acid which is anxiously waiting to feast on your teeth and cause decay.
  2. Avoid acidic foods that can demineralize and damage your teeth, like wine and citrus fruits.
  3. And finally, make sure you are using quality oral care products that can help reverse some of the damage done by everyday use. If you've not yet found a product you like, we'd love you to try Elims toothpaste. As mentioned above, I firmly believe in fluoride alternatives like nano-hydroxyapatite to help remineralize our teeth.

 

Tooth sensitivity, especially in extreme cases, can really decrease your quality of life. And there's no need to "grin and bear it" because it's certainly not a problem that will go away on its own. Prevent what you can, treat what you must, and listen to the advice of your healthcare professionals.

 

Until next time,

 Dr. Casey

 

 

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