Some people seem to be able to bite into something extremely cold – say a popsicle or ice cream bar – without a second though. Others find even the thought of such an activity to be completely cringe-worthy. Trigger foods may include hot, sour, or sweet delicacies in addition to cold ones. Pella, IA dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Allen answers questions about sensitive teeth from patients just about every day. Once you understand the cause, you may find the issue is easier to deal with.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Underneath the hard layer of enamel that protects your teeth is dentin, which is responsible for transmitting heat or cold sensations to the nerves below. Your gums act as protection for the roots of your teeth. In an ideal mouth, dentin and the sensitive tissues underneath your gums will stay protected from direct contact to extreme temperatures. A person with sensitive teeth is experiencing some degree of dentin exposure and gum recession, so trigger foods start to literally get on your nerves.
Brushing Too Aggressively
Unfortunately, if you believe that you can stave off tooth sensitivity by ramping up your oral hygiene routine, you may be doing more harm than good. While periodontal disease and cavities are usually direct results of poor brushing and flossing habits, you are at risk for tooth damage if you brush too often, or too vigorously. Too much pressure from the abrasive bristles on a toothbrush can wear down tooth enamel, exposing dentin and exacerbating sensitivity.
Relief for Sensitive Teeth
Soft bristled toothbrushes and desensitizing toothpastes are a good place to start. Once gum tissue has started receding, it is important to brush fairly gently, to avoid further damage. A diet high in acidic foods can obliterate enamel, so avoid substances such as citrus fruits, carbonated sodas, and vinegars if you’re starting to experience sensitivity. Visiting your Pella, IA dentist regularly will help as well. Dr. Allen can assess your particular situation and recommend specific oral health care products that might offer some relief.