You take a sip of a cold drink and feel a sharp, tingling sensation in your teeth. The same thing happens when you eat a spoonful of hot soup or take a bite of ice cream. In some cases, pain or discomfort when eating can be a sign of a cavity. In others, it means you have sensitive teeth.
Several things can make your teeth more sensitive. Here's how to recognize the causes of tooth sensitivity and how to cope with it.
What Are the Causes of Sensitive Teeth?
The enamel that coats your teeth protects the nerves and roots beneath it. Although tooth enamel is one of the hardest substances in the human body, some people have thinner enamel than others. Enamel can also wear down over time or after exposure to certain substances. Some things that can wear it down include:
- Eating or drinking acidic foods, such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, soda, and coffee.
- Use a lot of pressure when you brush your teeth.
- Grinding your teeth.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or recurring heartburn.
Some people experience sensitivity in the root area of their teeth. In that case, the sensitivity can be caused by receding gums, which have pulled away and left the tooth roots exposed. Gum disease can also cause sensitivity in the root area of the teeth.
Your teeth might also be sensitive if you don't have a regular dental hygiene routine. When you don't brush or floss regularly, plaque builds up on the tooth surface and between the teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that can irritate the gums, making the teeth feel sensitive.
How Can You Treat Sensitive Teeth?
You can treat sensitive teeth in a few ways, depending on the cause of the problem. If your tooth brushing technique is contributing to the sensitivity, you can try using less pressure when you brush. Switching to a toothbrush with soft bristles rather than medium or firm ones can help. Some electric toothbrushes have pressure sensors that let you know when you're using too much force.
Another option is to use a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. Certain types of toothpaste contain desensitizing ingredients, which can help improve sensitivity over time. Your dentist can give you recommendations.
Also, get in the habit of seeing your dentist for regular exams and cleanings. A dentist can detect and treat gum disease in the early stages before it interferes too much with the health of your teeth.
Your dentist might also recommend in-office treatments to help reduce sensitivity. A fluoride varnish, for example, can help strengthen your enamel and reduce discomfort.
Can You Prevent Sensitive Teeth?
Protecting your enamel can help you prevent tooth sensitivity. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, or as recommended by your dentist, rebuilds the enamel.
You can also protect your teeth by choosing what you eat and drinking carefully. Some foods, such as milk and cheese, contain calcium that helps strengthen the tooth enamel. Fruits and vegetables can also help protect the teeth, as they are high in fiber and encourage the production of saliva. Saliva rinses acids and sugar off of the teeth, minimizing the potential for damage.
If you have sensitive teeth, contact us today so we can figure out the cause and can recommend the best course of treatment. Call us at 501-225-4555 to learn more and schedule an appointment.