Imagine your teeth having multiple layers like an onion. The ultra-hard outer shell is called the enamel. Beneath that is a layer of porous material called dentin that surrounds the inner nerve. Tooth enamel protects the dentin from temperature extremes and other irritants. Your gums do the same for the dentin inside the tooth roots.
Tooth sensitivity occurs when one of these protective barriers is compromised – because of tooth decay or gum disease, for instance. When that happens, heat, cold or pressure can produce sudden, sharp pain. Other possible causes include: Cracked or broken teeth, a damage tooth filling, teeth grinding, aggressive brushing of the teeth, and dental plaque build-up on the root surfaces.
The key to preventing tooth sensitivity is to keep the gums from receding. Here are some simple steps you can take: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to minimize dental abrasion and irritation of your gums. Consider an electric toothbrush so all you need to do is move the brush, not worry about how well your teeth are being cleaned. Be extra gentle when brushing around the gum line! Go easy on highly acidic foods (such as citrus), as they can erode tooth enamel and lead to dentin exposure. And use a night guard if you grind or clench your teeth at night.