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  • Dr. Bryant Anderson

Don’t Let Tooth Sensitivity Spoil Your Favorite Summer Treats!

Summer is in full swing, and there are few things to help you beat the heat better than an ice-cold glass of water or your favorite frozen treat. 


Unfortunately for many of us, tooth sensitivity can make it impossible to enjoy cold foods and beverages comfortably. Temperature changes, sweet or acidic foods, and hard or crunchy foods can all trigger tooth sensitivity.


If you find yourself avoiding certain foods or drinks because they make your teeth hurt, you may wonder why your teeth are sensitive and what you can do about it. At Anderson Family Dental, we want to help you enjoy your summer without worrying about tooth pain!

man with tooth sensitivity pain holding his jaw

WHY DO COLD DRINKS MAKE YOUR TEETH HURT?


Each of your teeth has a nerve that runs through the root and into the pulp at the center of the tooth, where they are usually well shielded from the oral environment. However, if you were to look under a microscope, you would see tiny pores throughout the tooth’s structure. These pores contain fluid and tiny extensions of the nerve. 


Sudden temperature changes such as sipping a cold drink can make the fluid shrink very quickly, irritating the nerve. 


Temperature is one of the most common triggers for sensitive teeth, but it is not the only one. 

Changes in the pH of your mouth, such as eating sweets or acidic foods like pineapple can irritate the nerve in the same way. Your teeth may also feel sensitive when you bite down on something hard, when you brush or floss, or when you have sinus problems.


As you can see, there are several possible triggers for tooth sensitivity, but what makes the nerves more sensitive in the first place?


WHAT CAUSES TOOTH SENSITIVITY?

Some people have teeth that are naturally more sensitive because of their individual anatomy, but there are many reasons a person can develop tooth sensitivity.


  1. Gum recession. Tooth roots are more porous than the dense enamel of tooth crowns. The nerve also sits closer to the surface of the root than the crown at the top of the tooth. When the gums migrate lower on the tooth to reveal root surfaces, it makes the nerves more vulnerable to many of the triggers listed above, including cold and sweet foods.

  2. Teeth grinding and bite disharmony. Excessive pressure from an uneven bite, chronic clenching, or nighttime grinding can put a strain on your teeth. This can stress the nerves, cause microscopic cracks, or wear down the enamel and make it too thin to protect the nerves properly.

  3. Cavities, chips, and cracks. Any damage to your enamel increases the exposure of the tooth nerves. Untreated tooth decay, fractures, and failing dental work can all cause significant sensitivity. Cavities are especially prone to sensitivity triggered by sweet or acidic foods.

  4. Acid reflux and erosion. GERD can cause stomach acid to back up into the esophagus and throat, creating chronically high acidity in the mouth which can erode your tooth enamel. Eating disorders and medical issues that cause frequent vomiting can likewise damage the enamel and even eat away at the gums, both of which can cause significant sensitivity.

  5. Brushing too hard or using harsh products. To keep your teeth clean, you may be tempted to brush harder or use a stiff toothbrush, but this can damage your gums and enamel and lead to sensitivity. Likewise, harsh and abrasive toothpaste, especially those containing whitening and tartar control ingredients, can make your teeth more sensitive.

  6. Chronic sinus problems. The roots of the top teeth lay very close to the bottom of the maxillary sinus, which can become inflamed and cause pressure due to allergies and illnesses. This pressure can sometimes even irritate the nerves of your teeth, creating sensitivity or tenderness in the top molars.


Certain dental treatments may cause temporary sensitivity that goes away on its own over time. For example, it’s normal to expect some sensitivity with teeth whitening.


Your teeth may also feel sensitive for a few days after treatments like cavity fillings or dental crowns. However, if you experience intense or lingering discomfort after dental treatment, our team is always happy to check and make sure everything is okay!


WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE A DENTIST ABOUT A SENSITIVE TOOTH?

In many cases, tooth sensitivity is a major annoyance that doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything to worry about. However, there are some cases when sensitivity warrants a call to your dentist.


Here are some indicators that there could be a bigger problem.

  • Pain that lingers after a sensitivity trigger

  • A tooth that suddenly becomes sensitive to heat

  • Intense pain when you chew or bite

  • Teeth that ache, throb, or hurt without a specific trigger

  • Sensitivity that’s getting progressively more intense or frequent

  • Changes to your bite

  • Non-specific pain


Even if there is no larger issue like a cavity or crack, sensitivity can be incredibly disruptive to your routine. If sensitivity gets in the way of enjoying your favorite foods and drinks, we may be able to help!


ARE THERE TREATMENTS FOR TOOTH SENSITIVITY?

Timely treatment for problems like cavities or tooth injuries can relieve pain and prevent further damage. So, the first step in resolving your tooth sensitivity is a visit to your family dentist in Winter Park, FL!


When we’ve eliminated potential issues and determined that you are experiencing normal tooth sensitivity, we may be able to decrease the intensity or frequency of your symptoms with a few simple adjustments.


Desensitizing toothpastes like Sensodyne can be incredibly helpful. There are several different types of anti-sensitivity toothpaste, so it may take a little experimentation to determine which is the best one for you.


Professional fluoride treatments can decrease sensitivity by rebuilding the mineral content of your enamel, helping to close off the pores in your teeth. Fluoride can also reinforce enamel weakened by acid and offset sensitivity due to erosion.


Gum disease treatments can improve the attachment of your gum tissue to the teeth, which may relieve a lot of tenderness and sensitivity. If you have gum recession, a gum graft may restore a healthier position and cover the root surfaces. If a gum graft is not possible, we may be able to cover your exposed roots in other ways.


Bruxism treatments to prevent grinding and clenching, such as a nightguard or Botox to relax your jaw muscles can relieve the excessive pressure that causes damage and sensitive teeth. Your smile is unique, and you deserve tooth sensitivity treatments tailored to your specific needs.


At Anderson Family Dental, every member of our team is happy to connect you with the right solution for your sensitivity. Call us to schedule your consultation for tooth sensitivity treatments in Winter Park, FL!



 
Dr. Bryant Anderson, DMD

Dr. Bryant Anderson, DMD

Dr. Anderson also completed a Mastery program in Dental Sleep Medicine where he gained invaluable knowledge in the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea. He maintains membership in many dental organizations and has received his fellowship in the International Congress of Oral Implantology and his fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry. READ MORE

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