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Tooth sensitivity is a condition that can make everyday activities such as eating, drinking, and even walking outside in colder weather painful and unpleasant. If you frequently experience a sharp burst of pain in your teeth when drinking coffee, eating ice cream or being hit by a gust of cold air, sensitive teeth may be the cause. Sensitive teeth are a common, though frustrating issue. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) estimates that up to 40 million adults in the United States suffer from this condition.
The primary cause of sensitive teeth is thinning of the enamel, the hard covering that protects teeth from damage. Thinning of the enamel exposes the dentin within teeth, which is full of nerve endings. Exposed nerve endings are the reason you can feel a sudden flash of pain when enjoying your favorite ice cream.
Fortunately, sensitive teeth are a treatable condition. Here are some of your options for managing sensitive teeth.
Adjust your brushing habits
Tooth sensitivity may be reduced by a simple change in your daily brushing habits. Switching to a softer toothbrush should be one of your first steps. Brushes with hard bristles can aggravate your teeth, increasing sensitivity and discomfort. Likewise, scrubbing teeth aggressively can hasten damage to the tissue covering the roots of your teeth and increase sensitivity. Be sure to brush gently for a full two minutes at least twice daily.
Try a special toothpaste
Toothpastes made to treat sensitive teeth can be a helpful remedy. These toothpastes can be purchased over the counter and contain ingredients designed to help protect your teeth. It is important to use the toothpaste regularly to see improvement.
Avoid acidic foods and drinks
Soda, citrus and red wine are some of the acidic biggest offenders. If you cannot fully avoid acidic foods and beverages, be sure to brush twenty minutes after consumption. Be aware that brushing immediately after can actually increase sensitivity, so it is better to rinse your mouth and allow sufficient time for the acids to be neutralized by your saliva before brushing.
In some cases, surgical solutions may be recommended to treat the underlying cause of your teeth sensitivity. If you have receding gums, tissue grafts can help protect your teeth roots and reduce sensitivity. Inlays, crowns and bonding may also be options if there is damage to your teeth that is causing or exacerbating your sensitivity.
Steven G. Berwitz, DMD of Savannah
7 Oglethorpe Professional Blvd. Suite 2, Savannah, GA 31406