Dental Sensitivity Explained By Our Elmhurst Family Dentist

Written by Dr. Scharfenberg on Nov 14, 2023

Although dental sensitivity can seem to pop up out of nowhere, in most cases, it is the result of subtle physical changes that have compounded over time. This is actually good news! It means that you can steps to protect your smile from sensitivity-causing materials and habits. In today’s short article, our Elmhurst dentists are going to be talking about some common causes of dental sensitivity, as well as what you can do about it. Let’s get started!

The first thing to understand is that not all of the parts of your smile are prone to sensitivity. Dental enamel, for example, does not contain any nerves, which is why it makes a great protective layer for your teeth. So, if you’re experiencing dental sensitivity, it means that a vulnerable part of your smile has been exposed: generally, this means the dental pulp—which is the innermost layer of the tooth—or oral tissues.

Bruxism, or chronic dental grinding, is a common cause of dental sensitivity. As your teeth grind back and forth, the dental enamel inevitably wears thin. Consequently, irritating substances are able to penetrate the enamel and reach the sensitive dentin and dental pulp layers.

Acidic foods and drinks can also weaken teeth and lead to enamel thinning. Citrus fruits, juices, wine, soda, and coffee can all put your smile at risk. When consuming acidic substances, you want to make sure that you don’t brush your teeth for at least 20 to 30 minutes after you finish eating or drinking. It takes 20 to 30 minutes for your enamel to “re-harden,” and brushing during this time can actually cause tooth damage.

Chronic gum disease will cause your gum tissue to pull away from the base of your teeth. When this happens, the root of your tooth is overly exposed. This is another way that dental sensitivity can occur.  It’s critical that you seek prompt treatment for gum disease, in order to decrease the risk of developing periodontal pockets. There are also restorative treatments available—like gum tissue grafts—to help repair tissue that is already compromised.

As you can see, dental sensitivity can have a number of root causes. In order to effectively protect your smile, it’s best to partner with a dentist who can monitor any changes to your oral health. Give our Elmhurst dentists a call to learn more!