Getting out of bed in the morning is so much easier when the smell of rich coffee fills the air. You can almost taste your traditional blend as you remove a mug from the cabinet and inhale a bit of the wafting steam. But as you bring the filled cup up to your lips and take a sip, a sudden but familiar pain makes you wish you hadn’t turned on the coffee machine in the first place.
Sensitive teeth can make everyday tasks like drinking coffee, tea, and water a trial. But don’t give up on your favourite hot and cold drinks or foods just yet. Read this blog to find a few ways to reduce your tooth sensitivity.
Tooth Sensitivity Definition
Each tooth has a layer of hard enamel that protects the softer interior layers. When enamel thins or wears away, it exposes the tooth’s dentin layer. This bone-like tissue contains hollow tubes that act like microscopic passageways to nerve-endings. When hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks wash over exposed dentin layers, particles make their way through these passageways to the tooth’s nerves. This transference is the cause of your pain.
Tooth sensitivity varies from person to person. Some may feel a chronic ache while others feel acute pangs. Whether it’s severe discomfort or an odd twinge of pain, tooth sensitivity is usually brought on by:
- Drinking or eating items at hot or cold temperatures
- Drinking or eating sweets
- Touching tongue to teeth (or touching teeth to other teeth)
If you notice that any (or all) of these actions result in pain, you have sensitive teeth.
Tooth Sensitivity Causes
Some people have naturally sensitive teeth. However, if the pain is severe or it’s a new issue for you, it could signal a larger issue. That may sound frightening, but you likely have nothing to worry about. Schedule an appointment with your dentist for a full check-up to find the specific cause. When you finish, he or she may find that one of a few culprits are to blame:
- Poor brushing habits: If you brush too hard, enamel breaks down and erodes. This exposes your dentin over time. If you don’t brush often enough, plaque and tartar will accumulate along the gum line. Bacteria within those substances will eat away at enamel.
- Broken tooth: Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth may not be able to protect their sensitive nerve-endings. It’s the same principle as an untreated cavity. If enamel isn’t there (because of a crack or cavity), it cannot defend against extreme temperatures.
- Cracked filling: Bacteria look for any tiny cranny they can make their home. A cracked filling is an ideal place.
Acid foods and drinks: Foods like grapefruit, pickles, olives, and cranberries have a low pH balance, which means they are acidic. If you eat or drink foods with high acidity, you could erode your teeth’s protective outer layer.
- Bruxism: Teeth-grinding, or bruxism, is a common problem, and it can also wear down enamel.
Tooth Sensitivity Solutions
There are many causes for tooth sensitivity, but you also have a variety of solutions. Even though dental pain can be uncomfortable, it is also treatable. Try a few of the solutions below to get started on a pain-free smile.
If you have sensitive teeth, be gentle with them as you brush. Apply a small amount of pressure while you brush in small circles or horizontal lines. Make sure you pay special attention to the gum line, back molars, and corner teeth since many people unknowingly neglect them.
Wear a Mouth Guard
If your tooth sensitivity derives from bruxism, wear a mouth guard while you sleep. This will eliminate sensitivity over time and help with other issues teeth-grinding can cause. Just a few long-term concerns include temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, headaches, and cracked or loosened teeth.
Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel. With that strength back in place, that outer layer can protect your sensitive nerve-endings. Many stores sell fluoride rinses without requiring a prescription. However, you may need a prescription-strength fluoride rinse or gel to eliminate painful tooth sensitivity. Ask your dentist for recommendations.
Avoid Sugary and Acidic Foods and Drinks
Since acidic foods are causes of tooth sensitivity, you should avoid them as much as possible. Substitute a soft, acidic grapefruit for a crunchy carrot in the morning. Sugary foods and drinks like chocolate or juice feed the bacteria in your mouth. These mouth-invaders then metabolize the sugar and produce acid.
This doesn’t mean you can never eat a slice of pineapple. Just be careful to vary your routine if you have an acidic or sugary breakfast every morning.
Visit Your Dentist
The best thing you can do for your sensitive teeth is to schedule regular visits with your dentist and tell him or her about any tooth sensitivity you notice. They will help you find the cause of the problem and how to reduce or even prevent the pain.