If you have sensitive teeth, you have good company. It has been estimated that more than 45 million adults share this particular problem, where you feel pain if you eat or drink anything that is too hot or too cold. The medical term is dentin hypersensitivity, and it occurs when you develop microscopic cracks in your teeth. How do you develop the cracks? Unsurprisingly, the extremes of hot and cold are one possible cause. Other causes are grinding and clenching the teeth, brushing too hard or with bristles that are not soft enough, or abrasive toothpaste. For example, toothpaste that is intended to whiten your teeth or remove stains may have ingredients that make your teeth more sensitive. Tartar-control toothpaste, which often has sodium pyrophosphate in it, is sometimes another culprit.
Once the cracks are there, unfortunately, they allow heat and cold to reach the dentin underneath, where the nerves in your teeth are located, without the buffering that enamel without any cracks can provide. The problem often progresses gradually, but once you reach a certain point, it will definitely affect what and how you eat. It can even affect your ability to breathe comfortably. To control the problem, your dentist may recommend that you use toothpaste, sealants, ionization, and filling materials, include ones that have fluoride in them, to help your teeth become less sensitive. You can also get some relief by changing your diet to limit the amount of food you eat with some form of acid as an ingredient.
If you notice that your teeth are feeling more sensitive than usual, be sure to talk with your dentist about it. Maybe you are beginning to experience sensitive teeth, but you also might have a cavity or abscess in the making. The sooner your dentist can determine what the problem is, the sooner you can take the appropriate actions.