Dentin and Tooth Sensitivity

woman with icepack and looking sad - what is dentin

Dentin and Tooth Sensitivity

Do you have sensitive teeth? If so, it’s because the dentin inside your teeth has been exposed. Dentin is hypersensitive to hot and cold temperatures as well as extremely sweet or acidic foods and drinks. In this article, we explain what dentin is, and how it’s related to enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity.

What Is Dentin? 

Your teeth are made up of three layers: the enamel, the dentin, and the pulp. Dentin is the middle layer of a tooth and makes up the largest portion of its mass. This calcified, living tissue is what surrounds the tooth’s pulp. It sends information about your mouth to your brain through nerves and gives your teeth their color. Unlike enamel, which cannot regrow, dentin will continue to grow throughout the tooth’s life.

Exposed Dentin Causes Tooth Sensitivity 

When your tooth enamel gets worn too thin or chipped away, it exposes the dentin underneath. When the dentin is exposed, it can cause intense tooth pain. Tooth sensitivity can be triggered by hot or cold temperatures, as well as acidic or sweet substances. The pain can be devastating, and it might even keep you from enjoying your favorite foods and drinks. 

What Causes Enamel Wear? 

  • Brushing too hard or too often. Brushing too vigorously or using an abrasive toothpaste can cause enamel erosion.
  • Whitening treatments. If used incorrectly or too often, whitening products can erode the enamel and expose the sensitive dentin inside your teeth. 
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth. The excess pressure and friction that comes from grinding and clenching can crack your teeth, exposing the dentin. And the friction of habitual grinding will gradually wear away the enamel until the dentin is exposed.
  • Tooth decay. Acids from the bacteria in plaque eat away at your enamel, making tiny holes (cavities) into your dentin. Untreated tooth decay can lead to extreme pain and even tooth loss.
  • Gum recession. The roots of your teeth, underneath your gums are not protected by enamel, but by cementum, which is much thinner and easily stripped away. Ifhyou have receding gums, you probably have sensitive teeth.

How to Protect Your Dentin

Protecting your dentin starts with protecting your enamel. Gently brush and floss every day. A good oral health routine and a gentle hand can help keep plaque from wreaking havoc on your teeth and gums. And be sure to visit your dentist every six months for a checkup. It’s the best way to prevent small problems from getting worse.

If you have sensitive teeth, you’ll need to avoid extremely hot or cold foods and drinks. Monitoring temperatures can help you prevent some pain. You can also try to avoid any sugary or acidic foods that trigger tooth sensitivity. However, you should remember that dental pain is never normal—if you are experiencing any type of dental discomfort, don’t wait to make an appointment.

Dental Care for Sensitive Teeth in Prescott 

We use our mouths to connect with the world through laughing, smiling, and conversing. So when it’s painful to smile, it shows. A gentle cleaning and exam could be the first step toward relieving your pain. There are treatments available for tooth sensitivity—contact us today to schedule an appointment.




Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/29/23). Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash.