As anyone with sensitive teeth can tell you, when teeth are worn down, some of the simplest pleasures—eating a bowl of ice cream, drinking hot coffee—can become painful and frustrating. One of the most common complaints among dental patients, sensitive teeth are not only uncomfortable, but they are also more susceptible to decay.
Causes of Sensitive Teeth
The outer layer of your teeth is the hardest substance in your whole body, protecting the crown; below that, something called cementum protects roots under the gum line. Beneath these two substances is dentin, a less dense part of the tooth with lots of small hollow areas where hot, cold, and very sweet foods are able to get in and stimulate nerves.
What happens with sensitive teeth is that when the enamel wears down, as a result of certain habits and diet choices, the dentin is exposed. This means heightened sensations in response to hot and cold drinks or food, as well as increased susceptibility to cavities.
Gum recession also contributes to teeth sensitivity. In this condition, lost gum tissue leaves the roots of teeth exposed. This too can cause sensitivity, as the exposure makes it easier for food and bacteria to reach nerves.
Treatment for Sensitive Teeth
One of the most important ways to treat sensitive teeth is through proper oral hygiene. For people with sensitive teeth, in addition to brushing twice daily and flossing daily, it’s wise to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and to choose a toothpaste suitable for your needs. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth has ingredients that clog the little canals in teeth, protecting your nerves from irritation.
When sensitivity persists for more than three days, you should see your dentist. In cases of decay or cracks, you may need a filling or crown to protect from further damage. There’s also something called a desensitizing agent that your dentist can apply to sensitive teeth, which can help prevent nerve irritation.
Q: How can I avoid tooth sensitivity ?
A: Know what lifestyle choices increase the risk of sensitivity, such as high consumption of acidic foods like citrus juices and soft drinks, conditions such as bulimia and acid reflux disease, and poor oral hygiene.
Q: How long will it take for a specialty toothpaste to provide relief?
A: In most cases, you’ll need to regularly use a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth for at least a month before noticing any major changes.