Are your teeth sensitive to hot and cold foods?

If you have ever felt discomfort or pain while eating hot food or drinking cold soda, then your not alone. While having a sudden and sharp pain in your teeth after eating cold or hot food could be a sign of having cavities, it’s also a common problem if you have teeth sensitivity.

Visiting your dentist will help you know precisely why you have sensitive teeth.

What is Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is a sharp and uncomfortable pain in teeth that is caused by hot or cold temperatures.

Tooth sensitivity may be a temporary or a prolonged problem and can affect one tooth or even several teeth. Sensitive teeth can be caused by different factors but can be treated easily by your dental professional and by changing your oral hygiene plan and diet.

What are the symptoms of sensitive teeth?

If you have sensitive teeth, you may feel a sharp and sudden pain when your teeth are exposed to specific triggers.

The most common triggers for sensitive teeth are:

  • hot foods and drinks
  • cold foods and beverages
  • cold air
  • food and beverages with high sugar concentration
  • eating or drinking acidic foods and drinks
  • brushing or flossing teeth
  • using alcohol-based mouthwashes

Some of the symptoms are usually temporary but may be very intense.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

The real reason your teeth may become sensitive is when the dentin (the sensitive part of your teeth under the tooth enamel) is exposed. Dentin has a lot of nerve endings which become very sensitive when exposed.

Here are some of the most common causes of teeth sensitivity:

  1. Brushing your teeth aggressively. This is the most common reason for tooth sensitivity. The harder you brush your teeth, the more you deteriorate your tooth’s enamel. This will then cause a regression in your gums and expose the dentin of your teeth. When your dentin gets exposed, you will start experiencing tooth sensitivity. Also, using a toothbrush with tough bristles will wear out your tooth enamel and lead to tooth sensitivity.
  2. Excessive grinding of the teeth. Grinding teeth can also cause teeth sensitivity. If you are used to grinding and biting your teeth even when you’re asleep, then you can quickly get tooth sensitivity. The more you grind and bite your teeth the higher the chances of getting teeth sensitivity. Your teeth will become sensitive when you grind your teeth because grinding your teeth easily wears down your enamel and exposes the dentin. When your dentin is exposed, you will undoubtedly get sensitive teeth.
  3. Dental erosion. Dental erosion is the process of losing the enamel of your tooth. Dental erosion is caused by an acidic reaction on the teeth caused by acidic foods and drinks. When the acidic foods and beverages wear out the enamel, the dentin gets exposed and leads to teeth sensitivity.
  4. Receding gums. When our gums start to recede, the root of the teeth gets exposed which leads to teeth sensitivity. Significant causes of receding gums are brushing your teeth too aggressively, and dental diseases
  5. Gum Disease. Gum disease makes the gums of the person having it weak which leads to sensitive gums and also expose the dentin. Gum disease is a leading cause of teeth sensitivity.
  6. Dental work. Your teeth may become sensitive after tooth restoration procedures like crown placement, dental cleaning, and root planting. The pain usually eases after a month.

How is tooth sensitivity treated?

You should visit your dentist and talk about your teeth sensitivity. Your dentist will then examine your teeth thoroughly to determine the cause of your sensitive teeth. The dentist will then know precisely how to treat your problem. Your dentist will most likely give you some medications to provide you with quick relief to your sensitivity. If your tooth sensitivity is not intense, then over-the-counter treatments can be tried.

You can start by choosing a toothpaste explicitly made for teeth sensitivity. The reason is that these kinds of toothpaste do not have irritating elements and also have chemicals that assist in blocking pain from reaching the nerves of your teeth. Your dentist might recommend an alcohol-free mouth wash which will be less irritating to your sensitive teeth. Using softer toothbrushes and brushing your teeth more softly will help stop enamel deterioration. You should also avoid acidic foods and beverages to prevent more problems.

About the author: Dr. Robert Love currently runs his own family dentistry practice in Brighton, Michigan called Love Family Dentistry. He graduated from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 1979 and practiced dentistry in Allen Park before establishing his office in Brighton in 1982.  Dr. Love comes from a family of dentists.  His father was the first in the family to earn a DDS degree, followed by brother Bill and sister April.  Dr. Love’s wife is also a dentist.