Have you ever eagerly anticipated that first bite of an ice cream treat only to be caught off guard by a sharp, painful sensation in one or more of your teeth? Brrr, that ice cream is cold and your teeth don’t like it! Why? There’s hard, protective enamel on the outside of your teeth. Below that, there’s dentin, which is a layer of tissue that contains the inner pulp. The dentin has very small tubes in it and when fluid moves in those tubes, the nerves become irritated and can cause you to feel pain. Sometimes this pain feels like mere sensitivity, but other times it can become so bothersome that people change their eating, drinking, and even their breathing habits in an attempt to minimize it. When tooth enamel is worn down and these small tube’s surfaces become exposed, tooth sensitivity can occur when you eat or drink cold or hot foods, when your teeth are touched, or even when your teeth are simply exposed to cool air.
Is Tooth Sensitivity Common?
Loss of tooth enamel, gum recession, jaw clenching, and teeth grinding can all lead to extra sensitive teeth. Whitening can also cause temporary sensitivity as it works on the outer layer of teeth, and braces can be another tooth surface “irritant,” albeit a longer-term one than teeth whitening. Acid reflux and eating disorders are other conditions that can affect your teeth. The causes of tooth sensitivity are diverse, and it is estimated that they affect at least 40 million adults in the US. So in answer to your question, yes, tooth sensitivity is quite common! We know that doesn’t make it any less annoying.
What Can I Do to Help?
If tooth sensitivity is getting to you, try a softer toothbrush that will be easier on your tooth enamel and on your gums. Also, ask us for a toothpaste recommendation. Some toothpaste is too abrasive for sensitive teeth, particularly whitening toothpaste. There are special toothpastes formulated to reduce tooth sensitivity, and there are over-the-counter fluoride mouth rinses meant to help protect your tooth enamel from further damage.
In our Columbus dental office, there are a number of additional options for people suffering from sensitive teeth or hypersensitivity. Dr. Sitaram can apply tooth sealants or other filling materials to repair the tooth surfaces where nerve endings are exposed. We also offer fluoride treatments to help re-mineralize tooth enamel that has been worn down. If your tooth sensitivity is severe, we may suggest some diet modifications as well. Acidic foods and beverages can worsen tooth sensitivity, as can soda.
When Should I See Dr. Sitaram?
If one tooth or multiple teeth feel exceptionally sensitive for more than a few days, it’s best to call us to schedule an appointment. Pain sensations caused by a cavity or an abscess can start by feeling similar to regular sensitivity, but they’ll require different treatment. When you visit us, try to remember when you first noticed the pain, and let us know what (if anything) you might have tried that either helped or didn’t seem to do anything. We are here to listen and understand what you’re feeling, then determine what is going on and what we can do to relieve your discomfort!
Contact our friendly, skilled team at Dental Solutions of Columbus to schedule a convenient appointment to ask about your teeth sensitivity or any other dental issue you might be experiencing. We look forward to taking care of you and your smile!