Are you cringing when you take a bite of ice cream, or sip hot tea? If your teeth experience a brief sharp pain when you eat or drink you may have tooth sensitivity, which is the result of exposed dentin. Dentin is the layer under the tooth’s enamel that has microscopic tubules filled with nerve endings. While the enamel protects the dentin in the crown, the cementum protects the dentin that reaches beneath the crown to the roots. Did you know that tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body? Well, tooth sensitivity develops when enamel wears down, exposing the dentin so that even brief exposure to hot, cold, acidic or sticky foods can make your pearly whites hurt.
What Can You Do?
Brushing: Brushing your teeth harshly and using a hard bristled toothbrush wears down tooth enamel.
Tip: Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently. No harsh brushing!
Acid: Eating acidic foods will hurt nerves exposed.
Tip: Limit exposure to acidic foods like citrus, kiwis, pickles and tomato sauce, and soda.
Bruxism: If you grind your teeth over time this will wear down the enamel exposing the dentin.
Tip: See about getting a custom-made night guard fitted to your bite to stop grinding.
Whitening toothpaste: Tooth whitening chemicals are harsh on tooth enamel.
Tip: Switch to a fluoride toothpaste or a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth.
Alcohol-based mouthwash: can make sensitive teeth hurt more, especially if dentin is already exposed.
Tip: Consider skipping mouthwash use altogether, or find one that has fluoride in it.
Receding gums: If your gums are receding, dentin will be exposed.
Tip: You may need to have a procedure to seal your teeth and as well as treat gum disease.
Plaque: If you have too excess plaque it will wear down tooth enamel.
Tip: Brush, floss, and be sure to keep all scheduled dental cleanings to keep plaque under control.
Dental procedures: Root canals, tooth extraction, or crowns can make a tooth sensitive temporarily.
Tip: Let your dentist know if it doesn’t go away in case you have an infection.
Cracked teeth: A chipped or cracked tooth can make your tooth hurt if the dentin is exposed.
Tip: See your dentist to cap it or extract it.
Decayed fillings: Decay around old fillings allows bacterial acid to build up in and wear down enamel.
Tip: See your dentist to replace the filling.
If you are having problems with tooth sensitivity, don’t hesitate to call our Smiles Dental team at 360.339.7499 today and let us help brighten your smile!