You know that feeling when you bite right into an ice cream cone to keep it from dripping or falling sadly to the floor, and your teeth react in a way that makes your eyes water and your skin raise up with goosebumps? Similar to the way a brain freeze feels, millions of Americans struggle with having tooth sensitivity every day, so it is obviously a good idea to learn more about the potential causes and concerns surrounding the mysterious ailment.

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel (the hard outer surface of your teeth) is worn down, by chewing on non-food items, acidic foods and drinks, injury or trauma, or poor dental hygiene, which exposes the underlying layer of dentin, the softer core of your teeth, which connects to the blood vessels and nerves of the tooth. The main symptom is pain, which occurs when that dentin experiences a change in temperature or pressure, such as eating or drinking hot, cold, sweet, or acidic food and drinks, it quite literally “strikes a nerve” and causes that sensation associated with sensitive teeth.

There are many different possible causes of this sensitivity. Overbrushing, or brushing too aggressively can wear away at your tooth enamel and underlying gum tissue, which causes them to recede and again, exposes that dentin to changes in temperature. It is also more common to experience this tooth sensitivity with age. Grinding your teeth at night as you sleep can wear away at tooth enamel as well, so it might be wise to look into a night guard. Certain dental treatments, like teeth whitening, can also contribute to sensitivity.

There are many ways that you can improve on your dental care, and to better prevent and treat the symptoms caused by this sensitivity. To prevent the break-down of your protective layer of tooth enamel, try to brush and floss more gently and with a soft-bristled toothbrush held at a 45-degree angle to your gum line. Don’t press down so hard that the bristles fray outward, but use just enough pressure that you can feel the bristles go in between your teeth and up against your gums. Flossing more gently will also maintain the health of your gum line to prevent them from receding. Get the floss between your teeth with a sawing motion and curve it around your teeth to use caution along your gum line. You can also try using a desensitizing toothpaste as well, and as always, be sure to keep up with your dental check-ups and cleanings. Your dentist can always recommend better courses of treatment for your symptoms as well, but only if you are being seen in their office so they can accurately evaluate your symptoms. Call our office if you are experiencing these or any other symptoms.  

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