Sensitive Teeth

A woman with sensitive teeth holding a cup of coffee.

Sinking your teeth into an ice cream cone on a hot summer day can be heaven – unless you suffer from sensitive teeth. Many of you have likely experienced some form of sensitive teeth.

Sharp pains penetrate the surface of our teeth, many times in reaction to hot or cold sensations, says the Hamilton dentist, Dr. Sims. Some people even experience tooth pain from breathing in cold air. The Academy of General Dentistry reports that at least 40 million Americans suffer from tooth sensitivity.

But what makes our teeth react to temperature this way? Let’s quickly review the composition of a tooth. The outermost layer of our teeth is made of hard enamel. Beneath the enamel you’ll find dentin, which contains the tooth’s inner pulp. The dentin also contains tiny fluid-filled tubes.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

Dentists in Hamilton, ON say teeth become sensitive when the dentin’s tiny tubes are uncovered. Receding gums can cause these tubes to be exposed, and so can severely deteriorated enamel.

Certain behaviours can increase the chances of your teeth growing hypersensitive. Patients that grind their teeth can wear down their enamel and make teeth more susceptible to sensitivity.

Assess your oral health. Cracked teeth, receding gums, plaque buildup and tooth decay can cause your tooth’s roots to become sensitive and irritated.

Examine your diet for foods with high acidity. Citrus fruits contain lots of acids, so be wary of eating too many grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, clementines, lemons or limes. Pickles, tomatoes, and even tea also contain acids.

The biting pain can deter you from eating your favorite foods, but there are several options to relieve your sensitivity.

How Can I Treat and Relieve Sensitive Teeth?

Reduce the amount of acidic foods and drinks that you consume.

Examine your oral health routine, says Invisalign Hamilton provider. What kind of toothpaste do you use? Some whitening toothpastes contain the ingredient sodium pyrophosphate, an abrasive material that can exacerbate sensitive teeth. Desensitizing toothpaste can help, but it normally takes several brushings to become effective. Fluoride can help desensitize your teeth also, so make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride. Remember to choose a toothpaste approved by the CDA.

What type bristles does your toothbrush have? Hard bristles are tougher on teeth and gums. Choose soft bristled toothbrushes to thwart unnecessary sensitivity. Are you brushing your teeth too hard? Take a look at your toothbrush. Bristles that point in different directions can be a sign of hard brushing. Take is easy on your teeth and brush gently but thoroughly.

Your dentist may be able to seal your tooth root with a protective covering, eliminating the contact that causes sensitivity and discomfort. Dentin sealers will keep the roots protected and will alleviate your pain. Dentists can also cover unprotected tooth roots with fluoride varnish or dental bonding.

Our Hamilton dental pros can inspect your mouth for problems that could be contributing to your sensitive teeth. We practice general and cosmetic dentistry at Century Stone Dental, improving smiles with Invisalign clear aligners and porcelain veneers. Contact our office to learn more about tooth sensitivity. We want to help you eat ice cream and feel pleasure, not pain.

Dr Christopher Sims
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