If you're like many people, you experience fleeting moments of tooth sensitivity on an occasional basis, and you may tell yourself it's no big deal. However, it could very well be a predecessor to an emerging issue with potentially serious implications. Because many major dental problems first manifest themselves as minor nuisances, it's important to pay attention to tooth sensitivity and other signs that something may not be right. Most cases of tooth sensitivity can be traced to damage to the tooth enamel. Enamel provides a protective coating over the teeth, and when it's worn away, hot and cold substances can cause pain by coming into contact with the nerve endings in the dentin. Tooth sensitivity has several causes. The following are three of the most common ones and what you can do about them.
Improper Brushing Techniques
Many people experience tooth sensitivity due to improper brushing techniques — most of the time, they're simply brushing their teeth too hard and/or using a hard-bristled toothbrush. Switching to a soft-bristled brush is easier on the tooth enamel, and because the bristles are more flexible, they do a better overall job of cleaning the teeth. Oral irrigation systems used after brushing in place of flossing your teeth may also help in minimizing tooth sensitivity. Your dentist may also recommend that you use a toothpaste specifically formulated for those experience tooth pain and/or sensitivity.
Consuming Acidic Foods and Beverages
Acidic foods and beverages such as tomato sauce, soda, wine, and citrus wear away tooth enamel over time, so try to limit these as much as possible — but you don't have to completely deprive yourself, particularly since tomato sauce, oranges, and other foods and beverages high in acidity have many positive health benefits. However, consider drinking orange juice, soda, and even wine out of a straw in order to limit contact with the surface of the teeth, and when you're eating a meal of highly acidic food such pasta with tomato sauce, either brush your teeth immediately afterward or thoroughly rinse your mouth out with water if brushing isn't possible at that time.
Tooth decay usually occurs because of poor oral hygiene habits, so be sure to brush and floss at least two times per day on a regular basis. Because regular brushing and flossing can't prevent a certain amount of plaque buildup, it's also important to see your family dentist for professional cleanings once every six months. Don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with your dentist if you're experiencing unexplained tooth sensitivity, pain, or discomfort.