Teeth sensitivity can be the result of many things, including a crack or decay. However, it can also be caused by grinding (bruxism) and using too much toothpaste.

This is a frequently asked question at any dental office! Your teeth are composed of four dental tissues. Three of them—enamel, dentin and cementum—are hard tissues. The fourth tissue—pulp, or the center of the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue—is a soft, or non-calcified, tissue.

Anatomy of a tooth

Enamel is a hard calcified tissue covering the dentin portion of the tooth above the gum-line. Because enamel contains no living cells, tooth enamel cannot repair itself from decay or from wear. Only a dentist can restore decay or damage to the enamel with a crown, inlay, onlay, partial crowns, etc. Dr. Welz is a conservative dentist and prefers to do inlays or partial crowns if possible. 

Dentin is a part of the tooth that is beneath enamel and cementum. It contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals). When dentin loses its protective covering (enamel), the tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to stimulate the nerves and cells inside the tooth, causing sensitivity. 

Enamel ranges in different shades of color but when you lose layers of enamel, by grinding, or toothpaste abrasion, then your teeth begin to appear more “yellow” and you may experience more sensitivity. Although these dentin tubules can heal, enamel can never “grow” back or heal itself. So by reducing grinding and the amount of toothpaste you use, you may begin to see a decrease in sensitivity in as little as one day. Dr. Welz recommends using baking soda in place of toothpaste (see our blog post “The Truth About Toothpaste”: https://www.drwelz.com/2019/07/01/the-truth-about-toothpaste/).