If you’ve ever experienced sudden or severe pain when you take a bite of something hot or cold, or even sweet or sour, or when you bite down while chewing, you may have sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is actually a very common issue and luckily there are many highly effective treatment options.
It helps to understand what tooth sensitivity is. Our teeth are covered by protective coverings – enamel above the gum line, and cementum below it. These outer “shells” protect the dentin, which is the tissue just underneath and which contains tiny tubules, or very small hollow tubes. When the enamel is worn away or cracked, or when gums are receding, the dentin can be exposed. This allows temperature changes, acidic foods, etc., to reach the nerves inside, and…ouch!
There are many things that can contribute to sensitive teeth:
- General wear and tear – brushing teeth too hard, or with too strong/stiff of a toothbrush can eventually wear down protective enamel
- Tooth decay – can easily expose dentin
- Gum disease – gums can pull back and expose the roots of the tooth
- Cracked, chipped or in any way damaged teeth – cracks, chips or breaks can expose the dentin
- Grinding your teeth – can also wear down enamel
- Tooth whitening products – some whitening toothpastes or bleaching products can contain ingredients which are abrasive and/or irritating
- Worn fillings
- Acidic foods
Fortunately, there are many different things to try to help control tooth sensitivity. The first thing to do is make sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Let the brush do its job by using a normal amount of pressure instead of brushing too hard. If your toothbrush head tends to flatten out after just a little use, you are brushing too hard and could be wearing down enamel. It’s also a good idea to switch to a toothpaste specifically made for sensitive teeth. After regular use it should make teeth less sensitive. Switch from an alcohol-based mouthwash to a fluoride mouthwash. And try to avoid highly acidic foods. If you still are experiencing sensitivity, see your dentist. There are many options to try, including, possibly, fillings or bonding to cover exposed areas, or varnishes or sealers applied to exposed root surfaces, and more.
Taking good care of our teeth is the key to preventing tooth sensitivity. However, even with the best care sometimes our teeth can get a little over-sensitive. If you are experiencing any tooth pain, please contact us at LB Dental and let us determine the cause, and thereby the best course of action for your specific situation, and get you enjoying ice cream again!