A Botany graduate, Nithya Venkat enjoys researching and writing about topics that interest her.
A sudden tingling sensation in your tooth when a hot or cold food item comes in contact with your teeth is a result of your teeth becoming overly sensitive. This can make eating and drinking a painful process.
To understand what sensitivity is, you need to have an idea of the basic structure of the tooth.
The basic structure of a human tooth
The human tooth has two distinct parts. The crown and the root –
Ø crown of the tooth is the part that is seen above the gums
Ø root of the tooth is the part deeply embedded in the jawbone
The crown of the tooth is made up of the enamel and the dentine. The enamel is the hard, strong outer covering that protects the tooth above the gums. The enamel is made up of calcium phosphate and is the strongest structure in the human body.
The dentine is made up of soft tissue, which secretes a mineral-like substance that hardens to form the enamel.
The root of the tooth is made up of the dentine below the gums, soft pulp, and the central tooth cavity.
The dentine runs through the entire tooth structure, from the crown to the root.
Beneath the dentine is the soft pulp that has nerve endings and blood vessels that branch off from the main artery and the nerve.
In the centre, there is a cavity which encloses the main artery and nerve.
Cementum is the connective tissue that firmly attaches the root to the bone and also protects the dentine below the gums.
What causes sensitivity in your teeth?
Sensitivitiy in your teeth can be due to any of the following reasons
1. Acid eating away the enamel exposing the dentine.
Bacteria in the mouth use sugar present in the food and saliva, to grow and multiply. These bacteria secrete acid that increases the acidic content of the saliva.
The acid slowly eats away the enamel exposing the dentine below. Once the enamel is eaten away by the acid the nerve endings are directly exposed to heat and cold making the teeth extremely sensitive.
2. Cementum being pulled away exposing the root due to hard brushing.
When you brush your teeth very hard, the cementum is pulled away from the root, exposing the dentine and increasing the sensitivity of the teeth. Brushing hard can also damage the enamel.This again results in increased sensitivity in the teeth. The increase in the acidity of the saliva can affect the cementum by slowly dissolving it.
3. The enamel being eroded by the acidity in the aerated soft drinks and exposing the dentine.
4. Biting hard substances that may cause the enamel to crack and give way resulting in increased sensitivity.
5. Grinding teeth while sleeping can slowly wear off the enamel causing cavities which expose the dentine and result in increased sensitivity.
6. Old dental fillings can crack easily exposing the dentine and can also expose the pulp beneath.
7. Any other diseases related to the teeth can also cause an increase in sensitivity.
8. Drinking very hot or extremely cold food items can increase the sensitivity in the teeth.
How to take care of sensitive teeth?
Use a fluoride toothpaste. The fluoride in the toothpaste helps to reduce sensitivity in the teeth.
Gargle using a fluoride mouthwash once daily to reduce sensitivity.
Do not brush very hard. Brushing hard will damage the enamel and hurt your gums.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles; hard bristles can damage the enamels.
Use an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes remove plaque efficiently. Some electric toothbrushes have sensors that stop brushing when you apply too much pressure, or a warning light glows when you brush too hard.
Visit your dentist once in six months or more frequently if you have ailments related to your teeth.
Replace your dental filling if you feel that it has been damaged.
If you have sensitive teeth, avoid whitening your teeth. Whitening increases sensitivity in your teeth.
How to prevent sensitivity in your teeth
Avoid eating too many sweets and hard candies.
Avoid eating very hot or very cold food items.
Visit a dentist once in six months.
Do not ignore tooth pain. This will worsen the condition and may also increase sensitivity in your tooth.
Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
Brush twice a day, in the morning and before going to bed. Remember to floss.
Use an electric toothbrush, as it is more effective in removing plaque.
Do not whiten your teeth very often. This can result in increased sensitivity of your teeth.
© 2012 Nithya Venkat
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on September 04, 2012:
Mama Kim 8 thank you for your visits. Sensitive teeth must be attended to immediately or else they cause many other problems. Thank you for your vote and share.
Sasha Kim on September 03, 2012:
Wonderful advise! This is exactly what my dentist said ^_^ voted and shared!
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 28, 2012:
OMG that must have been painful, take care. I hope your sensitivity has gone down by now.
Andy Aitch from UK & South East Asian Region on July 26, 2012:
Hi Nithya (is that a Thai name?)
I wish someone would tell the today's aggressive dentists how to take of patients sensitive teeth LOL :) Last time I had mine cleaned you may have well just plugged me into the mains sockets and called it torture.
He told me, before beginning the cleaning operation, to raise my right hand if the pain got too much. After enduring about 60 seconds of undiluted agony, I just had to raise that hand. He didn't stop! Just kept saying, "Almost done now. Nearly there!", and so he continued.
The top back teeth are the most sensitive, but since that last visit they are now super-sensitive no thanks to HIM :(
Btw, I think my sensitivity is caused by receding gums. Will heed your suggestions in this hub ;-)
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 17, 2012:
dinkan53 thank you for the visit and the vote.
teaches12345 thank you. Soft drinks are very bad for the teeth, I drink water instead, even though I am really tempted by coke.
Dianna Mendez on July 17, 2012:
I have heard how soft drinks erode enamel. It is rather a strong acidic drink that would affect teeth structure. Great hub and so very useful. Voted up.
dinkan53 from India on July 17, 2012:
A useful informative hub. Watch what you eat and proper oral hygiene can maintain healthy gums and teeth. Rated your hub as useful.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 17, 2012:
KatrineDM thank you for stopping by and leaving a wonderful comment.
freetipstime thank you for your appreciation.
KatrineDM on July 17, 2012:
Wonderful hub and a great advice for everybody. Thank you.