Tooth pain when consuming hot and cold products is a common issue among adults, but what causes this pain and is it considered normal? According to recent surveys, 1 in 8 adults in the United States suffers from some degree of constant tooth sensitivity. However, it is estimated that nearly half of all adults have suffered from sensitive teeth. In the dental world, those numbers are staggering and stress the importance of finding affordable and accessible solutions to the problem.
Don’t our teeth have natural barriers to prevent against this?
Our teeth are protected by their own natural barrier; this barrier is called enamel. Enamel works to protect the softer, interior parts of the tooth, called dentin and pulp, from becoming damaged and infected. Over time, our teeth’s enamel can be worn down due to diet and other factors, such as smoking, teeth grinding, dental health, etc. Once the tooth’s enamel is gone, the roots of the tooth become exposed and this exposure leads to nerve sensitivity in the tooth.
But what exactly causes the enamel to break down on our teeth?
Certain foods and drinks can cause enamel to weaken and wear down. For example, overconsumption of sugary or acidic foods eats away at the enamel of teeth leading to exposed nerves and tooth sensitivity. Carbonated beverages can cause the same effect as well. Smoking has many negative effects, one of which is the recession of gums, which causes root exposure and teeth pain and sensitivity.
How do I know if I suffer from teeth sensitivity or something a little more serious?
If consuming hot or cold products causes you to cringe or experience sharp pains, you may have tooth sensitivity. If the pain is more extreme or causes you to shy away from most foods or drinks, see your dental professional immediately, as this may be a sign of a more troublesome issue. Dental hypersensitivity happens because the root of the tooth does not have a protective layer of enamel and once the enamel is worn away, the root and most times the nerves become exposed to different elements, such as heat and cold, associated with different foods and drinks. If there is cracking in a tooth, this will lead to sensitivity and, over time, possible infection, resulting in a root canal or even tooth loss. If you suspect you may have damage to a tooth, see your dental professional as soon as possible to avoid any additional damages or complications.
How can I avoid sensitivity in my teeth?
The only way to avoid sensitivity in teeth is to ensure that enamel health is a first priority in dental health. Not only will you prevent sensitivity but you will also keep your teeth healthy and lasting your entire lifetime. Cut down or eliminate sugary and acidic products. Avoid excessive side-to-side brushing, especially right after eating, and try to drink a pH neutral liquid, such as water or tea, after eating to eliminate certain bacterias. Remember to use a soft to medium bristle toothbrush as these are gentler on your teeth.
What can I do if I already suffer from tooth sensitivity?
Avoid consuming very hot or cold products as this can agitate the exposed nerves and cause more sensitivity. Use dental toothpaste specifically labeled for those with sensitivity issues as they may help with easing the pain and discomfort associated with sensitive teeth. To avoid any further discomfort, remember to practice proper dental practices: brush your teeth at least twice a day, make sure to floss at least once a day, and use a dentist recommended mouthwash to aid in the prevention of bacterial growth in the mouth.
As with all dental health, it is always good practice to visit your dentist regularly and even more important if you believe you may suffer from sensitive teeth or a more serious issue. If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of your dental health needs, please feel free to reach out to our Dentistry at Somerset team.