Youch! You just took a very enthusiastic bite of your ice cream cone, and instead of tasting the sweet, sugary, creamy loveliness you were expecting, you got an instant bolt of dental pain. You’ve been getting a similar sensation whenever you drink something cold as well, and these are both clear signs that you have tooth sensitivity. Today, we share what might be causing this as well as what you can do about it.
1. You’re Brushing Too Hard
When it comes to brushing your teeth, there actually can be TOO much of a good thing. Brushing your teeth with too much force, a hard bristled brush, or right after you’ve had acidic foods (more on this in a bit) can actually wear down your enamel, gradually exposing the sensitive hollow tubes in your teeth that house your dental nerves. Without the protective enamel, these nerves can be overstimulated by hot/cold foods and beverages, which often leads to pain.
2. You Have a Sweet Tooth
Worn down enamel is usually the root cause of tooth sensitivity. The biggest cause of enamel wear? Plaque. Plaque is that clear film that develops on your teeth as you eat throughout the day. It’s created when the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth consume the leftover sugar on your teeth. If you have a diet high in sugar or if you don’t clean your teeth consistently, this plaque can actually break down your enamel because it is slightly acidic.
3. You Eat Acidic Foods
Foods and drinks that are high in acid include lemons, grapefruits, kiwis, sodas, energy drinks, and juices. This acid, just like plaque, can thin your enamel and expose the sensitive dental nerves, making them more sensitive. Also, like we mentioned earlier, brushing right after consuming these items can actually wear down your enamel even more because acid softens your teeth. After enjoying any of these, be sure to wait about 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
4. One of Your Teeth Is Damaged
If you have a cracked, broken, or decayed tooth, it can also expose your dental nerve and cause sensitivity in addition to a host of other problems. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to visit your dentist immediately for treatment.
5. You’ve Just Had a Dental Procedure
A bit of tooth sensitivity is completely normal after getting a dental crown, root canal, extraction, or filling. This should go away after a few days, but if it doesn’t, be sure to contact your dentist, as this could be the sign of an infection.
What You Can Do About It
The best way to take care of tooth sensitivity starts at home with consistent brushing and flossing. Keeping up with this routine will help strengthen your enamel and prevent it from thinning. If you’re already experiencing sensitivity, you may consider switching to a toothpaste specifically designed to lessen it (there are many brands out there). You should also visit your dentist regularly, and be sure to give them a call if your sensitivity suddenly increases.
Tooth sensitivity is very treatable; it just takes a few simple actions to make sure it doesn’t ruin your next ice cream cone.
About the Author
Dr. Brian Fann is a general, restorative, and cosmetic dentist based in Columbia, TN. He loves how dentistry allows him to improve a person’s health, appearance, and self-confidence all at the same time. He currently practices at The Art of Dentistry, and he can be reached via his website or by phone at (931) 381-6880.