A Pain in the Tooth: What to Do if You Suffer from Tooth Sensitivity

Do your front teeth hurt when you breathe in the cold winter air? What about when you warm up with a healthy Veggistrone soup? Does brushing and flossing make you wince?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might suffer from sensitive teeth.

A Couple of Reasons You Might Experience This Common Problem

According to the Mayo Clinic, tooth sensitivity is very common, affecting more than 3 million people in the U.S. a year.

It can occur for a couple of reasons:

  • The enamel on your teeth thins out. Enamel is the outer part of your teeth and covers a part called dentin. Dentin contains tiny nerve endings. If enough enamel wears away, the dentin can become exposed. So that hot Veggistrone soup — it could be touching exposed nerve endings.
  • Your gums recede. Your gums also cover dentin. If they recede, they can expose the nerve endings.

Seven Possible Causes Why Your Teeth Might Be Hurting

Causes for thinning enamel or receding gums can include (but aren’t limited to):

  1. Using teeth improperly. We’ve written in detail about this one.
  2. Brushing too aggressively. Brushing too hard might make you feel like you’ve gotten your teeth extra clean, but your teeth won’t be thanking you. Using too much force can wear down enamel.
  3. Eating or drinking acidic foods or drinks. Coffee may be essential to the morning routine, and spicy foods may taste delicious, but both can wear down enamel. If you can’t give up coffee, though, consider drinking it through a straw, so you can avoid contact with your teeth.
  4. Yes, gross, but with vomiting, stomach acid comes in contact with the teeth. This can be especially problematic if it happens regularly, as with the victims of some eating disorders.
  5. Grinding teeth. This condition, called bruxism, can rub off enamel from your teeth. It could be caused from higher levels of stress. If you need to de-stress, we have some tips here.
  6. Using tobacco. As if there aren’t already enough reasons to give up tobacco (both smoking and smokeless), tobacco can restrict oxygen and nutrients from reaching the gums, which can cause them to recede.
  7. Suffering from gum disease. Gum disease is the No. 1 cause of receding gums.

Five Ways You Can Treat Your Hurting Teeth

Luckily, you can treat sensitive teeth. Five tips include:

  1. Understand the cause. This is half the battle. Some of the causes come with specific solutions. For example, if you brush too hard, you would want to brush in softer strokes. Or if you grind your teeth, you could wear a mouth guard when you go to sleep.
  2. Monitor what you eat. This isn’t too different from understanding the cause of your sensitive teeth. Not only can acidic food and drink wear down enamel, alternating between hot and cold foods can cause issues, too. So, while it might sound awesome to sip a hot latte and eat ice cream simultaneously, you might not be doing your teeth any favors.
  3. Apply fluoride. Drinking tap water can be a source of fluoride. Some toothpastes contain fluoride. Your dentist might apply a fluoride varnish. Whatever way you get it, it can help your sensitive teeth, as fluoride strengthens enamel.
  4. Brush twice a day and floss daily. A regular brushing and flossing routine can keep your gums and teeth healthy and properly functioning. If your teeth are already sensitive, brushing and flossing can prevent further damage.
  5. Visit your dentist. Schedule at least two checkups a year with your dentist.

Sensitive teeth can be painful. But by knowing what to look for and by maintaining a healthy routine, you can brighten the world with your smile!

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