Have you ever taken a sip of hot coffee or a bite out of an ice cream cone and felt an intense pain at the root of your teeth? If you have, then it is likely you have sensitive teeth. But, do not worry as sensitive teeth is a common dental condition and millions of Americans experience it at some point in their life.
Let’s look at what causes our teeth to become sensitive. To put it simply, our gums protect the inner layers of our teeth from different types of food that we eat. Unfortunately, when these gums move back, dentins (a type of hard tissue beneath the tooth enamel) become exposed. Dentins are connected to the nerve endings of the teeth where pain is felt. When they are exposed to harsh temperature of food, a sudden and intense painful sensation is experienced.
Teeth can become sensitive through various means such as eating and drinking foods that are high in acidic content. Certain acids in food wear down the enamel of the teeth and end up exposing the dentin. Here are some other common causes for dentin exposure and gum recession:
- Regular wear and tear
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Excessive plaque
- Grinding & clenching
- Severe crowding of teeth
All of these lead to the development of sensitive teeth.
Below, we have outlined a few common mistakes that people with sensitive teeth make. Thankfully, these can easily be avoided without much effort.
- Using a hard toothbrush wears down the enamel on your teeth. Therefore, only a soft to medium strength bristled toothbrush should be used for brushing.
- Recommended time for brushing is around two minutes. Anything more than that is unnecessary and may even do more harm than good. Prolonged brushing can strip down the teeth’s enamels.
- Many people are under the misconception that brushing thoroughly is sufficient to maintain healthy teeth. The reality is that bacteria between the teeth are not removed merely by brushing and it is important for us to combine brushing with flossing. Flossing between the teeth can remove bacteria from those areas where even toothbrushes cannot reach.
Now, let’s look at some tips to help care for sensitive teeth:
- Use toothbrushes and toothpaste that is specially made for sensitive teeth.
- Use fluoride mouthwashes that are recommended by dentists for sensitive teeth.
- Brush your teeth after eating any sugary or acidic substances as well as after drinking milk to prevent bacteria from damaging the teeth.
- Brush your teeth before going to bed; it prevents bacteria from developing during the night.
- Get a night guard if you are a grinder