The Hard, Cold Truth about Sensitive Teeth

Most people are familiar with the sensation: you take a sip of hot coffee or dig into some frozen yogurt and experience a unique pain in your teeth. Healthy teeth have a layer of enamel that protects the crowns of your teeth (the part of the tooth above the gum line).

The enamel on your teeth can erode and expose dentin, which is a less dense enamel cementum that contains microscopic tubules (canals).Tooth decay exposes the root of your tooth to irritants, such as cold or hot drinks or acidic foods, causing pain. It is the interaction with the exposed dentin and irritant that causes a painful sensation that makes your teeth sensitive.

Guy in blue shirt with tooth pain

Sensitive teeth can be a symptom of a few different dental issues:

• Tooth decay or cavities
• Fractured teeth
• Worn tooth enamel
• Gum disease
• Exposed tooth root

Good oral hygiene, eating a well-rounded and healthy diet, and having regular dental checkups are the best ways to battle decay and keep your teeth at their healthiest. In most cases, proper oral hygiene is the most important step in alleviating your sensitive tooth pain. Additionally, some treatments include:

Desensitizing toothpaste is type of toothpaste contains compounds that help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. Most brands take more than a few uses for the desensitizing to actually kick in. A few brands you might find in your local store are Sensodyne and Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief.
Fluoride gel is a highly concentrated fluoride that dentists apply topically to a patients teeth about two times a year. Just a small amount will strengthen tooth enamel and reduce transmission of the senses.
Root Canal therapy is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. If sensitivity and pain are severe and persistent, we may need to perform a root canal.

Green Apple and Dental Tools

Every day dental hygiene is very important in combatting sensitive teeth. Always remember to brush at least twice per day and floss once per day. Exposing nerves to certain foods can aggravate tooth sensitivity. We can help design a treatment plan for your sensitive teeth, but in the meantime there are certain types of food and beverages you should avoid:

Extremely Hot or Cold Liquids
While everyone needs to drink beverages, you should be choosing yours carefully. Hot liquids such as coffee or tea can cause pain, as well as very cold foods like iced drinks or ice cream. If you must have something cold or hot, try sipping it through a straw. (If the beverage is hot, be extra careful!)

Acidic Foods and Drinks
Fruits like lemons, grape fruits, and oranges are acidic and may cause pain to your sensitive teeth. It’s also wise to avoid things like lemonade or limeade, soft drinks, or foods with vinegar.

Hard Foods
Be weary of foods that you will need to crunch down on, like candy or ice. This can cause pain, but if your teeth are vulnerable from decay, it can cause a crack and you will develop more complicated dental issues.

If you are struggling with your sensitive teeth, please feel free to contact our office today to schedule a consultation. We can help provide a treatment plan to alleviate sensitivity and fix the problem at the root of the cause! Call us at 239-936-0597.

DIY is essential to your dental health

shutterstock_124477807We’re not suggesting you should attempt a filling or extract a tooth on your own, but between visits to our office, you make the difference in maintaining your dental health.

The most obvious method of cleaning your teeth, of course, is brushing. You are bombarded with advertising touting the benefits of one toothbrush or toothpaste above another, but the answer is simple. Keep it simple. A soft brush is best to avoid damaging tooth enamel, and in toothpaste flouride is the key ingredient. Beyond that, find a taste you can live with. In fact, the simpler your toothpaste the better as many that claim powerful ingredients can actually wear away enamel and cause problems for those with sensitive teeth over the long run.

Flossing is equally important though often neglected. Find a way to work it into your routine. Some people like to keep floss close at hand so they can clean their teeth soon after eating, when the discomfort of food debris motivates them to do so. Others find that doing the top in the morning and the bottom in the evening helps them get the job done. Still others floss their whole mouth in one session, and truth be told it doesn’t matter what time you do it, as long as you follow the recommended once-a-day minimum.

Mouth washes have always been considered optional, and for many people are not necessary. In fact, they can contain harsh chemicals and wear away enamel. If you can’t live without that minty fresh feeling, be an educated consumer and check the ingredients on the label to be sure you are totally comfortable with what you put in your mouth. Feel free to discuss your choices with us at your next visit.

Beyond brushing and flossing, there are other things you can do to keep your mouth clean and healthy on a daily basis. Choose healthy foods and drink plenty of water during and after meals. If you indulge in a sugary, starchy or acidic food, eat it during a meal or soon afterward when the saliva in your mouth is already stimulated. Saliva will help wash those unwanted sugars and acids away. Some research shows sugarless gum also promotes good dental health by stimulating saliva, so feel free to freshen your breath and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time.

Of course, regular professional cleanings, every six months, is very important, and make an appointment at the first sign of pain or discomfort. To make an appointment call 239-936-0597 or schedule online at http://www.myfortmyersdentist.com/appointment/