It’s a cool San Diego winter morning, and you’re curled up on the couch with a cup of hot tea in your hands. It’s still steaming and too hot to drink. The kids are asleep, and you’re relishing in the morning silence. You blow on the tea one last time and get ready for that first delicious sip.
The hot tea hurts your teeth. Not your tongue but your teeth.
What is that about?
According to the American Dental Association, 1 in 8 people suffer from sensitive teeth or “dentin hypersensitivity,” and the pain associated with it is most often initiated by cold drinks, hot drinks, teeth brushing, and sweet foods.
What causes teeth sensitivity?
Dentin is the layer of your tooth that sits between your enamel and your pulp/nerve on the surface, and your gums and your pulp/nerve beneath the surface. When your dentin is exposed, either by wearing away of your enamel or the pulling back of your gums, the trigger (hot, cold, sweet, etc) travels through tiny tubes in the inner tooth and reaches the nerve center. This is what causes the pain.
There are a number of different things that can result in exposed dentin, including:
Tooth decay near the gum line
Gingivitis (gum disease)
Over-the-counter teeth-whitening products
So how can you relieve tooth sensitivity?
Avoid highly acidic food and drinks for tooth sensitivity
Carbonated drinks, coffee, citrus fruits, and other acidic foods and drinks may be causing your sensitivity by the acids wearing away at your enamel. Try avoiding them. And if you do happen to eat or drink acidic foods, do not follow by brushing immediately. The acids soften your enamel and may increase the sensitivity.
Change to a softer-bristled toothbrush for tooth sensitivity
The harder your bristles, the more likely they’re tearing at your gums and aggravating your sensitivity. Try using a brush with extra-soft bristles. This could do double duty by making brushing less painful and diminishing the wear-and-tear on your gums and teeth.
Proper brushing and flossing for tooth sensitivity
You don’t need to brush with vigor to get your teeth clean. Use a gentle toothbrush and brush gently and carefully, especially around the gum line so you don’t remove gum tissue. Regular flossing can help keep your gums in good shape, and a daily, fluoridated mouth rinse can help decrease sensitivity.
Use special toothpaste for sensitive teeth for tooth sensitivity
Special toothpastes for sensitive teeth work by soothing the nerves and by building a protective layer over the exposed dentin to create a barrier to pain triggers. But you have to use them twice every day for the best results.
Obtain a mouth guard for tooth sensitivity
A custom-fitted mouth guard worn at night can decrease the sensitivity caused by bruxism (teeth grinding), which wears away the enamel. Ask your dentist about this.
How we can help with teeth sensitivity
At Town Center Dentistry, we understand how disappointing it is when tooth sensitivity diminishes your enjoyment of your favorite foods and drinks. In our Rancho Bernardo office, we offer a few procedures that can directly decrease your sensitivity, including: bonding (to cover exposed root surfaces); fluoride varnishes; and dentin sealers. We can also fit you with a custom mouth guard to protect your teeth from bruxism, if necessary.
Give us a call. Let us help you regain the pleasure of a hot cup of tea on a cool quiet morning.