Understanding Tooth Sensitivity
Of the thousands of patients we’ve treated over the decades, sensitive teeth is definitely one of the most common issues we’ve helped patients deal with. Sensitive teeth may seem trivial next to gum disease, gum recession and chronic breath, but it causes great discomfort to the person suffering from it. Interestingly enough, sensitive teeth is often a sign of an underlying problem, such as receding gums, tooth decay, cracked teeth or loose dental fillings. However, nerves inside the tooth can also react to food and beverages with high acidity.
The Problem of Acidity
The enamel on our teeth acts as a hard protective layer for our teeth. Over time however, wear and tear can take its toll on the enamel. Acidic foods such as citrus fruits (e.g. oranges and lemons), tomatoes, pickles, salads with vinegar-based dressings, applesauce, and pineapples can also eat away at the enamel, thus exacerbating the sensation of tooth sensitivity. Acidic drinks such as citric fruit juices, wine, soda and sports drinks also aggravate the teeth, more so if the beverage is cold.
Working around Tooth Sensitivity
Acidic drinks can still be enjoyed with some workarounds. For one, drinking the beverage with a straw lessens sensitivity. So too does consuming the drink at room or slightly above room temperatures. It also pays to lessen the time the acid in the drink spends in your mouth by swallowing it quickly. Sports drinks can be diluted in water as well. Another solution we recommend to our patients is rinsing their mouths with water first to lessen the acidity in acidic foodstuffs and drinks.
Reach for Toothpaste
As you probably know by now, there are brands of toothpaste specifically designed for relieving the oral discomfort of sensitive teeth. Simply replace your regular toothpaste with the special toothpaste and brush several times daily, using a soft brush. Be sure to brush gently and wait 60 minutes before eating foods with high acidity. Another solution would be to coat the sensitive tooth with toothpaste before retiring to bed; dab a light film of toothpaste along the affected tooth’s gum line. Just be sure not to drink anything after applying the toothpaste, which acts as an anesthetic, penetrating the dentin tubules underneath the enamel and restoring the proper sensitivity of the nerve endings.
When to Consult a Dentist
If your tooth sensitivity stays the same or worsens after taking these measures, then it’s time to consult professional help. You may have an underlying problem, such as a cracked tooth, or tooth decay. When caught early, these problems are usually resolved in just one visit, but if the infection or decay is far along, we may recommend a root canal or drug intervention.