Q&A: Teeth Sensitivity

If sipping on a hot or cold beverage makes your teeth hurt, you probably have a common problem known as sensitive teeth.  People with sensitive teeth typically experience sudden episodes of dental discomfort. Tooth sensitivity often means the affected tooth is compromised, one way or another.


Q: How may I notice tooth sensitivity?

A: You may notice it when eating hot, cold, sweet or sour foods, drinking freezing or very warm beverages.

Q: What’s causing my teeth to be so sensitive?

A: Teeth become sensitive when the outer layer wears away (aka “enamel”) or cracks, exposing the dentin layer underneath. If dentin is exposed, food, drinks and even cold air can stimulate the tooth’s nerve, causing pain.

Q: What typically leads to dentin exposure?

A: Many things can lead to sensitive teeth. Brushing one’s teeth too hard may result in dentin exposure, as can grinding the teeth. Acid reflux or bulimia can also be the cause. Diet can also play a role – acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes and beverages such as sodas and energy drinks may destroy enamel.

Q: How can I prevent tooth sensitivity?

A: It’s important to find a dentist for cleanings and an examination every six months. Try using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Also, do not brush your teeth too hard. Reduce acidic foods/beverages from your diet. Watch out for clenching and grinding and if you do notice it, make sure to tell your dentist.

Q: What should I do if I already have sensitive teeth?

A: Find a dentist who can create an appropriate dental plan. Each situation is different, but options may include using special toothpaste or fluoride gel. Sometimes a crown or root canal may be the only option.

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