Do you avoid cold foods due to tooth sensitivity?

One of the most common concerns we hear from patients is that their teeth are sensitive to cold foods and liquids. Research reports approximately 57% of the population suffers from thermal sensitivity in their teeth. It is more common in people aged between 20 and 40, although it can affect people in their early teens and when they are over 70. Women are more likely to be affected than men.

There are multiple causes for having sensitive teeth. The part of the tooth we can see has a layer of enamel that protects the softer dentin underneath. If the dentin is exposed, a tooth can become sensitive. This usually happens where the tooth and the gum meet and the enamel layer is much thinner. Here are some causes of sensitivity:

  • Brushing too hard and brushing from side to side, can cause enamel to be worn away.
  • Dental Erosion: this is loss of tooth enamel caused by attacks of acid from acidic food and drinks.
  • Gums may naturally shrink back (recede), and the roots of the teeth will become exposed and can be more sensitive.
  • Gum disease: a build-up of plaque or tartar can cause the gum to recede down the tooth and even destroy the bony support of the tooth.
  • Tooth grinding: this is a habit which involves clenching and grinding the teeth together. This can cause the enamel of the teeth to be worn away, making the teeth sensitive.
  • A cracked tooth or filling: a cracked tooth is one that has become broken.
  • Tooth bleaching: some patients have sensitivity for a short time during bleaching or afterwards. Talk to your dental team about this before having treatment.

There are ways that you can treat sensitive teeth at home. There are many brands of toothpaste on the market designed to decrease the pain of sensitive teeth. Sensodyne, Colgate and Crest all have sensitivity toothpastes. These toothpastes can take anything from a few days to several weeks to take effect. Your dental team should be able to advise you on which type of toothpaste would be best for you. In addition, Crest makes a Sensi-stop strip that can be applied to teeth to decrease sensitivity.

If you have tried treating your sensitive teeth for a few weeks and have had no improvement, call our office to schedule an appointment for an evaluation with either Dr. Pierce or Dr. Knight.
You can prevent tooth sensitivity

Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with fluoride toothpaste. Consider using toothpaste specially designed for sensitive teeth. Use small, circular movements with a soft-to medium-bristled brush. Try to avoid brushing your teeth from side to side.

  • Change your toothbrush every two to three months, or sooner if it becomes worn.
  • Decrease the use of sugary foods, and fizzy and acidic drinks.
  • If you grind your teeth, talk to your dental team about whether you should have a mouthguard made, to wear at night.
  • If you are thinking about having your teeth bleached, discuss sensitivity with your dental team before starting treatment.
  • Visit our office regularly for your cleaning and check-up.