Putting Ice Cream Back on the Menu: Sensitive Teeth Explained

understanding sensitive teeth and enjoying your favorite foods again

If one slurp of hot soup sends lightning through your teeth and into your central nervous system, if sinking your teeth into the corner of your favorite ice-cream sandwich is a pleasure you gave up long ago, you have tooth sensitivity. Living a life avoiding good foods and your favorite things is easy to take for granted until the routine of biting into a crisp apple is off the table. People who suffer from sensitive teeth will find themselves apprehensively anticipating the shock of something cold or hot hitting their teeth even before that first bite.

Numerous reasons fill out the list of reasons that teeth may become hypersensitive to hot or cold.  Sometimes the real cause is inflammation, caused from trauma or infection, affecting the root and nerve inside the tooth.  Other times the protective layer of enamel may be less dense than optimal creating a more porous surface, exposing delicate dentine (the layer of tooth under the hard enamel), and allowing temperature changes to have a greater impact on the root and nerve inside.  Still other times a combination of factors–receding gum lines, periodontal inflammation and others–may be involved in creating that bone zapping sensation when something hot or cold touches our teeth.

The most common factors in hypersensitive teeth, listed here, helps explain some of what may be going on:

  • Gum Disease. Gums that have pulled away from the tooth root or are receding, and or gingivitis can cause the root to be exposed allowing changes in temperature to cause that nasty sensation. Receding gum lines and gingivitis both require a visit to the dentist to assess and then plan a remedy.
  • Old fillings with decay around the edges or under them.  Over time fillings weaken, even occasionally fracturing. Bacteria can colonize these microscopic cracks and crevices and erode away the enamel on the healthy part of the tooth well away from your spying eyes.  See your dentist especially if you suspect this particular issue, if the sensitivity is getting worse or just in one or two teeth it can be an indicator that decay is likely.
  • Excessive plaque. Brushing and flossing removes plaque that forms after you eat, excessive build-up of plaque can cause enamel to wear away. Without  their enamel protection teeth quickly become more sensitive. Practice good daily dental care and visit your dentist for regular cleanings every six months — or more frequently if necessary.
  • A recent dental procedure. This is one of those times where the nerve inside your tooth can potentially get a little hyper, causing sensitivity sometimes even to air!  Keep in contact with your dental professional if you experience this kind of sensitivity, they will want to monitor you and give recommendations for management.
  • Tooth-whitening toothpaste and some mouthwash. Many manufacturers add tooth-whitening chemicals to their toothpaste formulas, and some people are more sensitive to them than others. If your toothpaste or mouthwash could be to blame for tooth sensitivity, consider switching toothpastes.
  • Eating acidic foods. Acidic foods can weaken enamel creating a more porous surface on the tooth, thus allowing various stimuli to reach the tooth’s nerve and resulting in pain. Eliminating excessive foods with high acidity and focusing on foods that can help remineralize the enamel can be beneficial.
  • Hard toothbrush bristles and over zealous brushing. Brushing with too much force and or a harder bristle can wear down the protective layers of enamel and effect the gum line as well. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush for the recommended times, about 30 seconds per quadrant of the mouth.
  • Other causes such as tooth grinding (or bruxism) and or cracks and fissures in the teeth can also contribute to tooth sensitivities. These and other issues can be discussed with your dentist to find solutions and fix the condition, eliminating painful symptoms.

Other Helpful Tips

A lot of people turn to fluoride as the potential cure for a sensitive tooth or teeth when there are other long term solutions available that potentially work better and are safer. Homemade toothpaste to remineralize teeth, proper brushing, adequate sleep, diet, and appropriate dental visits are all part of complete mouth health.

Call us Today to get more information and set up your consultation.



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