Tooth Sensitivity : Symptoms & Causes
Erosion of the enamel is the primary cause of dental hypersensitivity. Dentin which is located just below the enamel is quite sensitive by nature as it is surrounded by dental pulp and the root canals. When the enamel gets corroded, it exposes the dentin causing sensitivity of the teeth. When dentin is exposed, the tubules open and may react to stimuli as explained by Brännström's hydrodynamic theory. There are many factors that expose the dentin.
The primary cause of dentin exposure is gingival recession. This is commonly known as receding gums. In this condition, the roots of the teeth come to the surface and cause erosion of the cementum around the teeth. As a result, tubules are opened resulting in the movement of the fluid within.
Consuming food that is corrosive in nature is also a reason for the enamel to be eroded. Any food item with critical pH value below 5.5 can act as a corrosive agent. The enamel of the tooth is very resistant under normal circumstances but becomes vulnerable to abrasion when food with low pH value is consumed. Excessive intake of carbonated drinks also causes corrosion and subsequently exposes the dentin making the tooth sensitive.
There are a lot of internal factors that can contribute to the loss of enamel. The most common reason is regurgitation. This is a condition in which acids of the stomach are pumped back into the digestive pipe. The acids rise into the teeth cavity and act as corrosive agents. These acids tend to lower the pH value of the mouth quickly, thereby allowing the enamel to become vulnerable to erosion. Some people have the habit of grinding teeth. This habit could also contribute towards abrasion of the enamel and lead to sensitivity.
Sometimes chipping of the tooth or some kinds of filling can also expose the dentin. Brushing too hard can corrode the enamel gradually, thereby leading to sensitivity of the teeth.
Examining for dental sensitivity
The primary concern with dentine hypersensitivity is that not many patients recognize it as a condition that requires medical attention. In most cases, dentine sensitivity is discovered by chance when a person visits the dentist for a completely different reason. It is impossible to determine the extent of sensitivity through routine tests. It is only through discussions and detailed questioning that a dentist can decide the extent of sensitivity that an individual suffers. Based on the answers given by the patient, hypersensitivity is divided on a scale as follows:
- 0 - No discomfort, but stimuli is noticed
- 1- Mild discomfort due to stimulus
- 2 - Marked discomfort caused by air blast
- 3 - Marked discomfort that lasts longer than 10 seconds
Depending on this rating, a suitable procedure for treatment is selected.