Dr. Eric Siani, DMD, who practices general dentistry in Palmdale, California, says that tooth sensitivity is a common problem affecting nearly half his patients. Some people call the condition root sensitivity and dentists themselves, including Dr. Eric Siani DMD, sometimes call it dentin hypersensitivity.
Whatever you call it, you’ve got sensitive teeth if drinking or eating hot or cold liquids or food makes your teeth ache, explains Dr. Eric Siani DMD. Sometimes your teeth will hurt when eating acidic foods like oranges or drinking tart drinks such as lemonade. Even breathing in cold air can make your teeth throb if you’ve got sensitive teeth, says Dr. Eric Siani DMD.
The main cause of tooth sensitivity, according to Dr. Eric Siani DMD, is exposure of dentin (bone) down at the root. There are two reasons why this part of the tooth gets exposed, Dr. Eric Siani DMD explains: one is due to gum recession and the other is disease.
Although gums recede as we age, there are other reasons why the roots of your teeth may become exposed, says Dr. Eric Siani DMD. Just brushing too hard can damage the protective layer of enamel on the surface of the tooth, and the damage can be made worse, adds Dr. Eric Siani DMD, with the use of abrasive toothpaste.
Many people are aware of the damage that sugary soda and pop can have on their teeth, causing erosion and exposing the dentin under the tooth surface, acknowledges Dr. Eric Siani DMD. However, it is not widely known that even diet-carbonated drinks are acidic enough to soften tooth enamel, and Dr. Eric Siani DMD recommends reducing soda consumption as much as possible.
Once your dentist has determined that you actually have dentin hypersensitivity, and that you’re not suffering from cavities or gum infections, he or she can advise you on what steps to take, confirms Dr. Eric Siani DMD. Using toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth, a soft brush and following good oral hygiene practices (like brushing long enough, using a fluoride rinse and flossing daily) will likely be the first plan of action says Dr. Eric Siani DMD.
You’ll also be encouraged to change your diet so that it’s not acidic, removing foods like pickles and all carbonated drinks, continues Dr. Eric Siani DMD. You won’t feel the effect of the changes immediately, Dr. Eric Siani DMD warns, but if you follow your dentist’s instructions faithfully, you should note a gradual reduction in tooth sensitivity over time.