Tooth sensitivity is commonly seen in people between the age groups of 20 and 40 and about 40 million people in the US are affected by this condition. However, this does not mean it does not inflict teenagers or elderly folks. Based on the observations made by researchers, it can be stated that women are more prone to be affected by tooth sensitivity, as compared to men.
Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth
Symptoms of sensitive teeth unlike symptoms of other health conditions or illnesses are very few. On consuming something hot, cold, sour or acidic, a person can be left with anything from a mild twinge of pain to a severe electric sensation radiating through the mouth. Mostly, it is the sugar content in the beverage or food item that causes the pain. If you encounter slight tingling sensation or a sudden flash of pain after eating something sweet, cold, hot or sour, then you have sensitive teeth.
At times one can feel some pain shooting through one's tooth or teeth on accidentally biting on something hard. The pain may also occur on biting in a particular manner. This discomfort can last for a few minutes to several hours, thereby causing one to be irritable all day long. The pain commonly appears intermittently, however, if the pain is constant, it may indicate some serious underlying condition. Besides eating and drinking, one may experience sensitization even on simply inhaling cold air. This will be more obvious during the winters.
Sometimes one can feel a sharp sense of pain and irritation on touching the sensitive tooth with the other teeth or tongue. Moreover, some may even end up wincing once in a way while brushing or flossing. If on drinking hot water, one experiences a sense of pain, then this may be due to the death of nerve cells in the tooth. If the sensitivity is caused by tooth decay, then besides the pain arising intermittently, one may also be able to see spots on the teeth. These spots are nothing but holes or pits and are areas of tooth decay. However, this is only seen when the tooth is decaying and not otherwise. To understand how severe or critical the tooth sensitivity is, we will need to look at the different factors leading to sensitivity of teeth.
Factors Conducing to Teeth Sensitivity
As revealed in a survey conducted by dentists across the globe, it was found that vigorous brushing of teeth is one major factor conducing to teeth sensitivity. Aggressive brushing causes the layer of enamel sealing the teeth to wear off, thereby exposing the inner dentin layer. When a person consumes hot or cold beverages, etc. the hollow tubules in the dentin of the tooth permit passage of hot or cold temperatures, thereby stimulating the nerves present in the tooth. Because these nerves get stimulated, one experiences pain and discomfort while eating or drinking hot or cold food items. Besides aggressive brushing, poor oral hygiene, tooth decay, crack in the tooth, temporomandibular joint disorder, gum recession, teeth grinding or periodontal disease, can result in sensitive teeth. Certain toothpaste brands, teeth whitening products, etc. can also lead to sensitive teeth.
Depending on the severity of the condition, the dentist may recommend the use of a soft bristle toothbrush. A soft bristle toothbrush will reduce the friction caused on the teeth. Moreover, it will also reduce access to the nerve, thereby reducing the pain. He may also recommend use of a sensitive teeth gel or fluoride rinse to strengthen the teeth enamel. To keep the pain from returning one will have to use a sensitivity protection toothpaste. However, this toothpaste is not some magic paste. It takes several weeks to alleviate the pain. If tooth decay is the cause, then respective treatment will be carried out to deal with the infected tooth.
How to Prevent Teeth from Becoming Sensitive?
People with sensitive teeth or those who realize their teeth are on the sensitive side, can carry out some simple measures to prevent their teeth from becoming too sensitive. Regular flossing and brushing to maintain proper oral hygiene also helps prevent onset of tooth sensitivity. While brushing, make sure your brush is held at a 45-degree angle. Gently brush your teeth in a circular motion or up and down fashion. Never brush in a crisscross manner. Moreover, never hold the toothbrush in the palm of your hand. Use your fingertips to hold the brush. Since your teeth are sensitive, avoid consumption of acidic beverages like cold drinks, citrus drinks, etc. The acid in these beverages corrodes the tooth enamel. If at all you choose to have them, use a straw to sip the drink. This reduces the surface area of the acid's contact in the mouth. Some people even hold the beverage in their mouth before swallowing it. Avoid this as well.
Do not ignore sensitive teeth symptoms during the initial stages. If you experience pain after drinking something hot or cold, then consult your dentist and confirm if the pain has been caused by tooth sensitivity. If yes, then take precautionary measures to prevent painful situations in the future. The proverb 'a stitch in time, save nine' is applicable here!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.