Tooth sensitivity may not seem like a big deal…that is, until you have it. The shooting pain that comes when you bite into an ice cream cone or take a sip of hot coffee is just unbearable. If you have severe tooth sensitivity, even an icy cold wind can leave your teeth in pain.
What causes tooth sensitivity? Enamel erosion might be to blame, and the same goes for tooth decay.
To understand what enamel erosion is, you first need to understand what tooth enamel is. Enamel is the hard, white coating that covers your teeth. This coating is your teeth’s natural defense system, and nature knew what it was doing when it designed the human body because tooth enamel is the second hardest naturally occurring substance in the universe, second only to diamonds! This means that it can protect your teeth from the extreme pressures, temperatures, and elements your teeth come in contact with on a daily basis.
Still, however, your enamel isn’t indestructible. While it’s unlikely that your dental enamel can chip off, it’s very likely that it can wear away, and this can happen for several reasons. In most cases of enamel erosion, acid is to blame. Every time we eat or drink, acids form in our mouths and, if not removed by proper brushing, flossing, and rinsing, can begin to eat away at our tooth enamel. Enamel erosion is often present in people with acid reflux disease and GERD because of the high levels of acid that come up from the stomach to the mouth. Frequent vomiting and consuming foods and drinks that are high in sugar and carbohydrates expose your teeth to even more acidity.
Aggressive tooth brushing is often a cause of enamel erosion, as well. When you over-brush your teeth, you are literally scrubbing away your tooth enamel. Gentle brushing with a good toothbrush and toothpaste twice a day for the recommended amount of time (two to three minutes) is all it takes to keep your teeth clean.
Unfortunately, once your tooth enamel is gone, it’s gone forever. Underneath your tooth enamel is a layer of sensitive tissue called dentin. If your tooth enamel has eroded, the dentin is exposed and vulnerable, leaving your teeth susceptible to sensitivity and decay.