Do you have sensitivity to cold, acidic or sticky foods? If so, you are not alone. According to studies, about 40 million adults in the United States suffer from tooth sensitivity.
What causes this tooth sensitivity? And what can you do to avoid it?
The inner portion of your tooth is a material called dentin. Dentin is made up of microscopic tubules filled with nerve endings. In perfectly healthy teeth, dentin is covered by enamel on the crown of your tooth and a material called cementum on the root of your tooth. When either enamel or cementum is damaged or lost, dentin becomes exposed, in turn exposing the tubules which cause those nerve endings to be exposed and at risk for producing a shock response to certain stimuli. This response is tooth sensitivity.
Enamel or cementum can become damaged or exposed by a number of different sources:
- Aggressive brushing or hard toothbrush heads can brush away enamel and brush gingiva (gums) away causing gingival recession.
- Erosion due to highly acidic environments such as acid reflux, bulimia, or even acidic foods.
- Tooth decay, failing restorations, cracked or broken teeth exposing dentin
- Gum recession or abfractions due to grinding your teeth at night
- Temporary sensitivity from tooth bleaching or dental procedures
So what can or should you do to avoid the pain of tooth sensitivity?
Before you avoid ice cream, here is a game plan to help combat tooth sensitivity!
- Consult your dentist- If your sensitivity is a result of tooth decay or a fractured tooth, only a dentist will be able to safely treat your sensitivity. They will also be able to point you in the direction of a solution!
- Throw out your old toothbrush! Replace it with a soft or extra-soft brush head, ideally on an electric toothbrush, and make sure you aren’t brushing too hard!
- Swap your toothpaste for a sensitive toothpaste with fluoride in it. Some great ones to try are Sensodyne, Pronamel, and Colgate Sensitive Toothpaste. Use it every time you brush and avoid rinsing with water for 30 minutes after you brush for maximum results.
- Ask your dentist for a fluoride varnish treatment! Fluoride varnish acts directly on those pesky tubules to block the shock sensation and give immediate relief that can last for months!
The great news is that tooth sensitivity is definitely treatable! Numerous over the counter products and dental treatments are available to combat tooth sensitivity. You don’t have to live in pain!
Read more about tooth sensitivity here.
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, please call us at Adams and Cheek Dentistry at (919)866-1360 or click here to request an appointment online.