Are Your Teeth Temperamental? Dealing With Sensitive Smiles
Are you overly sensitive? Relax, it has nothing to do with crying during life insurance commercials. Millions of adults struggle with hypersensitive teeth, which means they are sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, very sugary or acidic foods and drinks and vigorous toothbrushing. This kind of sensitivity is often called "dentin hypersensitivity."
Dentin is the tissue that makes up the core of each tooth. Above the gumline, dentin is protected with a coating of enamel. Unfortunately, as enamel is worn away or decayed, dentin becomes exposed and receptive to sensations that cause painful nerve responses. This can also occur as the result of receding gums, a common symptom of gum disease.
So, what causes sensitive teeth? A number of things may be to blame. Over-zealous brushing with a firm bristled tooth brush or abrasive toothpaste can lead to dentin hypersensitivity, as can gum disease, which is the result of poor brushing and flossing habits. Your diet may also play a role, as frequent consumption of acidic foods and drinks can chemically dissolve tooth enamel. Finally, abnormal wear on tooth surfaces from chronic clenching or grinding of teeth, nail biting and chewing on hard objects can lead to sensitive teeth. To avoid the problem, brush and floss daily to maintain healthy gums and protect dentin from exposure. Avoid vigorous brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush.
If you're already suffering from overly sensitive teeth, your best bet is to contact your dentist for guidance. In the mean time, there are products that can help. Desensitizing toothpaste used in conjunction with a soft-bristled toothbrush can help. Toothpaste designed for those with sensitive teeth can reduce the pain associated with the condition after only a few days of use.
DR. GARY SIGAFOOS