Tooth Sensitivity: Too Hot or Too Cold?

Did you know that approximately 45 million Americans suffer from tooth sensitivity?

If you experience pain in your teeth after eating ice cream or sipping hot soup, chances are you have sensitive teeth. However, most causes of sensitive teeth are easily remedied with lifestyle modifications and proper dental checkups.

Continue reading to learn more about sensitivity of the tooth, what causes it and how Midway Family and Cosmetic Dentistry can help you treat it.

What is tooth sensitivity?

As the hard enamel of the tooth begins to recede, microscopic tubes that are located within the layer of the tooth are exposed. When the cells in these tubes are stimulated, it can cause a brief, sharp pain whenever the area is exposed to the temperature of food, beverages and even air. Any kind of extreme change in temperature can cause the teeth to expand and contract. As time goes on, tiny cracks can develop, making it easier for any hot or cold sensations to get beneath the enamel.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

The sensitivity and pain you may feel can be linked to a variety of oral health issues.

Below is a list of potential causes that can help you and the dentist tackle the problem properly:

  • Erosion in the enamel – Everyone’s teeth are protected by enamel. You can consider it the first line of defense against any hot or cold foods and beverages. As the enamel wears down, the tooth itself will start to decay, exposing the sensitive nerves in the pulp. The enamel gradually weakens as we age, have a sugary or acidic diet or deal with acid reflux.
  • Cavities in the tooth – Cavities can cause you to have holes in your teeth. These holes, also known as fissures, can expose the nerves in the tooth. Regardless if they are big or small, cavities can cause sensitivity. On that note, having a sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks may also be a warning sign that a cavity is starting to form.
  • Gum recession – According to the American Dental Association (ADA), underneath the enamel, the teeth are covered by another material known as dentin. Dentin is highly more sensitive than enamel. Similar to the enamel, dentin also contains microscopic tubes that can make the teeth more vulnerable to sensitivity should they be exposed. The dentin is only exposed when a person’s gums begin to recede. Gum recession is usually a side effect of gingivitis and gum disease.

Ways to Treat the Sensitivity

As we stated before, sensitivity in the teeth is far from untreatable. However, it’s important to have a dental evaluation to determine the exact cause of sensitivity.

Keep your sensitivity in check with the following methods:

  • Avoid certain foods and drinks – There are a few foods that contribute to making your teeth sensitive. Foods such as tomatoes, lemons and oranges are very acidic and should be limited or avoided altogether. Beverages such as soda, juice and sports drinks also contribute to the problem.
  • Switch out your toothpaste – You may not know it, but some toothpastes actually can increase teeth sensitivity and that includes those that remove stains from the enamel. There are various toothpastes that are specifically designed for this kind of problem. Keep in mind, however, that these kinds of products have to be used on a daily basis for a month at least. If your gums are receding, try rubbing the toothpaste on your gums for quicker results.
  • Be gentle with your teeth – Try to refrain from brushing your teeth so vigorously. Brushing too hard can wear down the root surface of the tooth and end up exposing sensitive areas. In order to tell if you’re brushing too hard, check your toothbrush. Are the bristles flattened, sticking out to the sides or both?

If your tooth sensitivity doesn’t improve, then it’s time to plan a visit to the dentist. Always make sure to tell the dentist when and where the pain had started. Call Midway Family and Cosmetic Dentistry at 678-393-1868 for more information or to schedule an appointment today, or send us an email through the form below. We look forward to helping you fight your tooth sensitivity.

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