Do you sometimes get a jolt of pain when you eat or drink something hot or cold? If so, then you have sensitive teeth. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. A recent survey suggests that about 1 in 8 people suffer from sensitive teeth. So why do so many people suffer from this condition and what can you do about it?
Having sensitive teeth is not equally spread across all demographics. This condition predominately effects young adults, people with receding gums and those who have done at home teeth whitening (most likely in the wrong way). The condition of having sensitive teeth happens due to the tooth enamel (the outside layer of the tooth) becoming worn away, or the tissue between the teeth and the gums, called the cementum, also begins to deteriorate. What this then causes is small holes to form which then connect small nerves inside of the tooth to certain triggers (hot and cold) on the outside of the tooth. Thus causing the jolt of pain that you feel with certain foods or drinks. The reasoning that sensitive teeth are more prevalent in young adults is that the layer of the tooth underneath your enamel, the dentin, grows thicker as we age thus creating more insulation from outside triggers such as hot or cold foods and drinks. Also, when sensitive teeth are caused by teeth whitening it is usually only a temporary problem that will go away within a few weeks after whitening has stopped. So the question now is what can you do about this?
I know you’re going to hate this answer, but the bottom line best thing you can do for your sensitive teeth is to improve your brushing, flossing and rinsing habits. After all, it was most likely the long term cumulative effect of these habits not being where they should be that caused the sensitive teeth issue in the first place. I’m not trying to beat you guys up too bad. I know that’s all you hear from us dentists and after a while it can begin sounding cliché. However, it’s the truth! Improving your daily dental hygiene habits will help you to keep the problem from escalating, but what to do about the pain?
Unfortunately, this issue of having sensitive teeth will generally not go away (you may age out of it though), but you can minimize the condition by doing a few simple things:
- Stop the problem from progressing with good daily dental hygiene habits
- Start using sensitive toothpaste
- Use a softer bristle tooth brush
- Rinse every night with enamel re-storing ACT mouthwash
In more severe cases of sensitive teeth oral surgery may be an option, such as having your gums grafted if the issue is based in receding gums. Be sure to consult your dentist about your options and in the mean time get those daily oral health habits back on track and steer clear of foods or drinks that may trigger it the most.