One of the great joys of food is the satisfaction you derive when you take a sip of that beverage or eat a spoon of that ice cream. Many people enjoy this treat daily without any form of pain or discomfort from their teeth.
But what happens when you feel a sudden, sharp pain in your teeth when you drink or eat something cold or sugary? If you’ve ever had this experience repeatedly, you may have tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity is a common problem that affects millions of Americans.
The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that nearly 40% of adults in the United States have sensitive teeth. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce or eliminate this problem so you can enjoy all your favorite foods and beverages without pain.
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What Is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that can be caused by several factors according to this orthodontist in Fort Lauderdale. It is characterized by a sharp, temporary pain in the teeth when exposed to certain stimuli, such as hot or cold temperatures, sweet foods, or acidic drinks. Sensitivity can also be triggered by brushing too hard or using tooth whitening products.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Several things can contribute to tooth sensitivity, including:
- Worn tooth enamel: Enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth. It’s what protects the inner layers of your teeth from damage. Over time, tooth enamel can wear down due to aging, brushing too hard, or using toothpaste or mouthwash that’s too abrasive.
- Exposed tooth roots: Tooth roots are normally covered by gums. But if the gums recede (pull back), the roots can become exposed. This can happen due to gum disease, tooth grinding (bruxism), or wearing away of the bone that supports the teeth (resorption).
- Cavities: Cavities are holes in your teeth that are caused by decay. When cavities aren’t treated, they can get larger and cause sensitivity.
- Cracked teeth: Cracked teeth can be caused by biting down on hard objects, trauma, or tooth grinding. If a crack is severe, it can go all the way through the tooth and expose the nerve.
- Acidic foods and drinks: Foods and drinks that are high in acidity can wear away at tooth enamel, exposing the dentin and causing sensitivity.
How Does Tooth Sensitivity Limit the Quality of Life?
Tooth sensitivity can make eating and drinking your favorite foods and beverages painful. It can also make brushing and flossing your teeth difficult since the sensation of the toothbrush on your teeth can be very uncomfortable.
Additionally, tooth sensitivity can cause you to avoid smiling or laughing, as these activities can trigger pain. This can lead to feelings of self-consciousness and social anxiety. In severe cases, tooth sensitivity can be so painful that it interferes with your ability to eat and speak. This can lead to weight loss, malnutrition, and social isolation.
How To Treat Tooth Sensitivity
If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, there are several things you can do to reduce or eliminate the pain.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: A soft-bristled toothbrush is less likely to damage your tooth enamel and cause sensitivity. Be sure to brush gently, as brushing too hard can also contribute to sensitivity.
- Use a desensitizing toothpaste: Many brands of desensitizing toothpastes are available over the counter. These toothpastes work by filling in the tiny pores in your teeth that are exposed when the tooth enamel wears down. They also contain fluoride, which can help to strengthen tooth enamel and provide relief from tooth sensitivity.
- Limit acidic foods and drinks: Acidic foods and drinks can wear down the enamel on your teeth, leading to tooth sensitivity or even worsening it. To avoid this, try to limit your intake of acidic foods and drinks. If you do eat or drink acidic foods or drinks, brush your teeth afterwards to help protect your tooth enamel
- Try a home remedy: You can also use home remedies to treat tooth sensitivity. One popular home remedy is to mix one part baking soda with two parts water and use it as toothpaste. Another home remedy is to mix equal parts salt and water and swish it around your mouth for a few minutes. These home remedies can help desensitize your teeth and relieve tooth sensitivity.
The Best Way to Treat Tooth Sensitivity
If home remedies don’t seem to be helping, or you’re experiencing severe tooth sensitivity, you should see a dentist. An experienced dentist in Guelph can determine the cause of your tooth sensitivity and recommend more effective treatment options based on the underlying cause of your sensitivity.