Tooth sensitivity is the most common problem in dentistry. You may feel sensitivity or discomfort when your teeth are exposed to hot or cold food, cold air or even sweets. It may seem as though tooth sensitivity is only an inconvenience however it can lead to much more serious problems if left untreated.
There are several possible causes for sensitivity of the teeth. One cause is stress on your teeth. Clenching and grinding is a major cause of tooth stress and you may not even be aware that you are doing it.
Another cause of sensitivity is loss of enamel. This can occur through such processes as abfraction, erosion and abrasion. Abfraction can occur when one tooth hits sooner than the rest and causes the tooth to flex. Over time, this flexing causes the enamel to separate from the dentin or the middle layer of the tooth. Erosion occurs when acids dissolve the enamel. This can be caused by frequent drinking of soft drinks and sports drinks or exposing you teeth to stomach acid through bulimia or acid reflux. Abrasion occurs when the protective tooth layer, enamel, is worn away. This can happen when you brush too hard, brush with a medium- or hard-bristled toothbrush or by using an abrasive toothpaste.
Dental procedures are another potential cause of sensitivity. Bleaching or even some restorative procedures can cause short term sensitivity.
Tooth sensitivity can be diagnosed pretty easily and can be treated sometimes with just a desensitizing toothpaste or mouthwash. Occasionally the treatment may require a night guard, a simple bite adjustment, a change in your brushing technique or diet, or a protective coating or bonding agent.