Why do I have sensitive teeth?

March 24, 2023

By Dr. Shen

So what causes sensitive teeth? Tooth sensitivity occurs when the inner dentin layer or the root surface of the tooth is exposed. The dentin and cementum (root) layer contain microscopic holes known as tubules that lead to the nerve inside the tooth. Without the protection of the outer enamel layer, hot, cold, or sweet substances reach the nerve through the tubules sending pain signals to your brain.

Special toothpastes for sensitive teeth have ingredients that can reduce the sensitivity when eating something hot or cold. For example, they might have potassium nitrate which soothes the nerve. The potassium ions work to prevent the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain when an aggravator like cold or heat is introduced. Another common ingredient in special toothpastes for sensitivity is stannous fluoride. This ingredient relieves sensitivity by creating a protective layer over the tubules that lead to the nerve. It prevents the sudden sensation of cold or heat from triggering your pain sensors.

Using toothpaste for tooth sensitivity doesn’t work instantly, but it builds up over time to reduce stimulus. After using the toothpaste every day, twice a day, for a few weeks you should start to notice an improvement.

This article was published on 03-24-2023 in The Altamont Enterprise.