If you’ve ever experienced sudden, sharp pain when sipping on a hot beverage or having an ice cream cone, you’re not alone, as 1 in every 8 Canadians suffer from sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is commonly triggered by hot and cold foods, as well as foods that are sour and sweet. Sensitive teeth can affect anyone, though it more commonly affects adults between the ages of 20 and 30, as well as adults in their 50s.
When you develop tooth sensitivity, it means one of those things: Your tooth enamel is worn, or a root is exposed. Enamel is a hard layer that protects the teeth. However, when the enamel wears away, the dentin becomes exposed, which allows for the nerves to become stimulated, and ultimately results in pain. As mentioned, things like hot and cold are the most common culprits of tooth sensitivity. Other triggers may include:
• Acidic foods
• Clenching and/or grinding
• Fractured/broken teeth
• Cracked/broken fillings
• Problems with root canals
• Poor oral hygiene
In order to prevent tooth sensitivity, it’s important that you have regular visits and cleanings with your dentist and hygienist. They will be able to document any changes with your teeth as well as help you take precautions in preventing things like cavities. If you clench or grind your teeth, your dentist will also be able to fit you for a mouth guard.
Following your visit with your dentist, there are also certain steps you can take to avoid tooth sensitivity when at home. If you use a regular toothpaste, you might benefit from switching to a desensitizing toothpaste. With regular use, a desensitizing toothpaste builds a long-lasting protective shield around your teeth and significantly reduces sensitivity – and, just like regular toothpaste, a desensitizing toothpaste also reduces tartar build-up and helps prevent cavities. While we’re on the subject of toothpaste, patients also need to be sure to continue to practice good oral hygiene. This means brushing a minimum of twice a day (with a soft bristled brush) and flossing regularly. Using a mouth rinse with fluoride can also help reduce tooth sensitivity and prevent cavities at the same time. Changing your diet is also something to consider, especially if you tend to eat more acidic, sweet or sour foods. Individuals with sensitive teeth should avoid or reduce those types of foods as much as possible and opt for healthier alternatives. You can find plenty of healthy eating tips from Dr. Ali Ghahary by clicking here. If you do eat acidic, sweet or sour foods, it’s a good idea to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth afterwards. That way the acid and/or sugar isn’t sitting on your teeth and eating away at the enamel.