Teeth Sensitivity: No Need to Stay Away from Hot & Cold Food
1 November 2021
Teeth sensitivity is sudden, painful and often leaves you weary about your choice of food especially when it comes to its temperature.
If your teeth hurt when you take a sip of your morning cuppa or when you savour your first scoop of ice-cream, perhaps it’s time to pay a visit to your dentist to discuss about sensitive teeth.
Sensitive teeth trigger an uncomfortable sensation that can stop you from enjoying the little (and big) things in life but they do not have to be a lifelong affair. There are solutions that can alleviate the symptoms of this problem and restore your quality of life.
What causes sensitive teeth?
The enamel is a thin protective layer covering your tooth. Although thin, it is a hard layer that protects your teeth from cracks as well as from temperatures that could trigger a painful sensation.
Sensitive teeth develop when your teeth’s enamel erodes or is worn off. This exposes your teeth’s dentin layer. When this happens, certain types of food and a change in temperature can penetrate through your tooth easily and trigger its nerves. Therefore, causing teeth sensitivity. Another reason could be that the root of your tooth is exposed due to receding gums.
There are various reasons that can lead to sensitive teeth. They include:
#1 Dental erosion
Acidic food and drinks can cause your teeth’s enamel to wear off and ultimately leading to the exposure of your teeth’s dentin layer. High-sodium processed food, dairy products such as cheese and carbonated beverages are some examples of acidic foods.
#2 Teeth grinding
Teeth grinding or bruxism is when a person grinds or clenches their teeth. Doing so occasionally may not pose much harm to your teeth but if it happens on a regular basis, teeth grinding can wear down your teeth’s enamel and leave its dentin vulnerable.
#3 Brushing too hard
Brushing your teeth aggressively or using a hard bristled toothbrush may feel like you’re cleaning your teeth effectively but it is actually doing more harm than good. These actions can thin your teeth’s enamel as well as cause receding gums. The best way to keep your teeth and mouth clean is to brush, floss and rinse with mouthwash. You should top the routine by visiting your dentist every 6 months to have them cleaned and checked.
#4 Teeth whitening
Teeth whitening can cause temporary teeth sensitivity. During the teeth whitening procedure, your dentist uses a chemical known as hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth. The effect of the chemical may cause teeth sensitivity for just a short period of time. This is why teeth whitening aftercare is essential. Do speak to your dentist about this if you’re thinking about whitening your teeth.
#5 Medical conditions
Medical conditions such as Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) or commonly known as acid reflux, causes the stomach acid to pass through the esophagus and into the mouth. The acid can cause dental erosion and thin your teeth’s enamel. Frequent vomiting too causes the same effect.
#6 Dental conditions
Teeth sensitivity could also be the cause of an underlying dental condition. Having a cracked tooth for instance, exposes the dentin layer to bacteria and this causes pain. Besides that, gum disease and receding gums can cause tooth sensitivity too.
What does sensitive teeth feel like?
There’s so much talk about sensitive teeth but what does it actually feel like? How sure are you that you’ve sensitive teeth?
Here are some common signs:
- A sharp sensation after having something hot or cold.
- A sharp sensation after eating or drinking something sweet or acidic.
- The sharp and painful sensation is temporary.
- Breathing in cold air through your mouth triggers a painful sensation.
Managing sensitive teeth
There are some steps that you can take to prevent and manage sensitive teeth, by yourself or by your dentist.
#1 Picking the right toothbrush and toothpaste
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth. Both options are widely available on shelves. Plus, don’t forget to complete your dental care routine by flossing and rinsing your mouth with mouthwash daily to keep your mouth healthy.
#2 Avoid eating or chewing on hard or brittle food
Do you have the habit of chewing on ice cubes? Biting or chewing on hard food such as ice cubes and nuts can lead to cracked and sensitive tooth.
#3 Minimise the use of teeth whitening products
One untoward side effect of teeth whitening products especially when used excessively or poorly is that it could thin your teeth’s enamel. For a safer option, opt for a teeth whitening treatment guided or performed by your dentist as your dental health is their best interest.
By your dentist
At times, you might not be able to pinpoint the cause of your teeth sensitivity but not to worry, your dentist will be able to help you identify the reason as well as managing it.
The treatment options for sensitive teeth will be tailored to your dental needs, depending what’s triggering the uncomfortable sensation. Some of the treatment options are:
#1 Take charge of teeth grinding
A custom-made mouth guard by your dentist can help to put a stop to teeth grinding. This mouth guard is worn during bedtime and can be of tremendous help at putting a stop to it.
#2 Desensitise your tooth
Your dentist may apply desensitising pastes, varnishes and sealants to help with treating dentin hypersensitivity. This is not a permanent option as the product will wear off over time but it can be reapplied by your dentist.
#3 Fill the gap
If a cracked tooth is stopping you from enjoying cold or hot food and drinks, getting it filled by your dentist can provide relief. In most cases, you’ll be able to enjoy your favourite food and drinks immediately.
#4 Have your gums checked
As gum diseases can make your teeth’s dentin layer and roots vulnerable, it’s best to visit your dentist regularly to have your teeth and gums checked.