The Hard, Cold Truth about Sensitive Teeth


Most people are familiar with the sensation: you take a sip of hot coffee or dig into some frozen yogurt and experience a unique pain in your teeth. Healthy teeth have a layer of enamel that protects the crowns of your teeth (the part of the tooth above the gum line).

The enamel on your teeth can erode and expose dentin, which is a less dense enamel cementum that contains microscopic tubules (canals).Tooth decay exposes the root of your tooth to irritants, such as cold or hot drinks or acidic foods, causing pain. It is the interaction with the exposed dentin and irritant that causes a painful sensation that makes your teeth sensitive.

Sensitive teeth can be a symptom of a few different dental issues:

• Tooth decay or cavities • Fractured teeth • Worn tooth enamel • Gum disease • Exposed tooth root

Good oral hygiene, eating a well-rounded and healthy diet, and having regular dental checkups are the best ways to battle decay and keep your teeth at their healthiest. In most cases, proper oral hygiene is the most important step in alleviating your sensitive tooth pain. Additionally, some treatments include:

• Desensitizing toothpaste is type of toothpaste contains compounds that help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. Most brands take more than a few uses for the desensitizing to actually kick in. A few brands you might find in your local store are Sensodyne and Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief. • Fluoride gel is a highly concentrated fluoride that dentists apply topically to a patients teeth about two times a year. Just a small amount will strengthen tooth enamel and reduce transmission of the senses. • Root Canal therapy is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. If sensitivity and pain are severe and persistent, we may need to perform a root canal.

Every day dental hygiene is very important in combatting sensitive teeth. Always remember to brush at least twice per day and floss once per day. Exposing nerves to certain foods can aggravate tooth sensitivity. We can help design a treatment plan for your sensitive teeth, but in the meantime there are certain types of food and beverages you should avoid:

Extremely Hot or Cold Liquids

While everyone needs to drink beverages, you should be choosing yours carefully. Hot liquids such as coffee or tea can cause pain, as well as very cold foods like iced drinks or ice cream. If you must have something cold or hot, try sipping it through a straw. (If the beverage is hot, be extra careful!)

Acidic Foods and Drinks

Fruits like lemons, grape fruits, and oranges are acidic and may cause pain to your sensitive teeth. It’s also wise to avoid things like lemonade or limeade, soft drinks, or foods with vinegar.

Hard Foods

Be weary of foods that you will need to crunch down on, like candy or ice. This can cause pain, but if your teeth are vulnerable from decay, it can cause a crack and you will develop more complicated dental issues.

If you are struggling with your sensitive teeth, please feel free to contact our office today to schedule a consultation. We can help provide a treatment plan to alleviate sensitivity and fix the problem at the root of the cause! Call us at 239-936-0597.

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