One in Eight Adults Have Sensitive Teeth
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, that’s 40 million adults in the United States suffering from sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is painful, like a stabbing sensation from the tooth into the gums and jaw, and is usually associated with cold foods or drinks, but some also feel pain from hot, acidic, or sweet foods and drinks.
What is Causing Your Teeth Sensitivity?
If you are experiencing teeth sensitivity, it could come from one or a mix of many factors. These include:
- Inflamed and/or receding gums from periodontal disease, gingivitis, and damage from smoking.
- Repeated exposure to acidic substances, like acidic drinks and overuse of mouthwash.
- Structural damage to the teeth caused by scraping and grinding.
- Worn-down enamel from brushing too hard and/or using a toothbrush with stiff, hard, or sharp bristles.
Anatomy of a Tooth
Tooth sensitivity is caused mainly by the deterioration of tooth enamel. Let’s take a look at the different parts of a tooth to understand why.
- Enamel is the outermost layer that protects the rest of the tooth, made of hard calcium phosphate.
- Dentin lies just under the enamel and is a firm tissue full of tiny passageways, like a stiff sponge. When the enamel is weakened, sensations like heat and cold can penetrate the tooth, and if the damage is bad enough, substances in the mouth can enter the dentin too.
- Pulp is the heart of the tooth and is soft tissue full of blood vessels and nerves. We probably don’t have to tell you that it is extremely painful when compromised.
- Cementum is a thin layer of connective tissue that “cements” the tooth to the root.
- The tooth’s root is the portion of bone that juts up from your jaw into the tooth and forms the base for the rest of the tooth.
Home Remedies for Sensitive Teeth
If you suffer from sensitive teeth, the first thing you need to do is let your dentist know. Tell us about your habits and come in so that we can look at your mouth. While you’re at home, there are some things you can use to decrease sensitivity on the daily.
- Desensitizing toothpaste.
- If you clench your jaw or grind your teeth while sleeping, try wearing a mouthguard to bed.
- There are dental treatments, such as enamel coatings, that cover and protect the tooth.
- Saltwater or hydrogen peroxide rinses help cleanse your mouth and reduce irritation.
- Topically applied clove oil or capsaicin can reduce pain.
- Foods like garlic and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties—and are delicious, even if garlic makes your breath a bit pungent.
Preventing Teeth Sensitivity
The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure holds true when it comes to sensitive teeth. Our recommendations:
- Brush your teeth and gums gently, and only use a soft-bristled brush.
- Use fluoride mouthwash once or twice a day to protect your enamel.
- Avoid too many sugary or acidic foods and drinks and clean your teeth afterward.
- See your dentist regularly.
We can identify problems before they become disasters, and problems that cause tooth sensitivity need to be addressed before they get worse. Protecting the structural integrity of your teeth and gums is essential for good oral health, which influences your overall physical health and quality of life.
If you are experiencing food sensitivity, schedule an appointment with Dr. Blum so we can properly diagnose the root cause, and discuss treatment. There are many different treatment options available to ease your discomfort, and help you feel your best.