Dr. Kami Hoss founded The Super Dentists more than two decades ago. The Super Dentists serves more than 100,000 active patients all throughout San Diego County.

People who have sensitive teeth know all too well how upsetting the condition can be. They can’t eat ice cream or drink coffee without wincing in pain. If you suddenly find yourself making a face whenever eating hot/cold food/drinks, then you may have developed teeth sensitivity.

There are many reasons as to why you could be developing sensitive teeth. Tooth decay near the gum line, grinding your teeth while you’re asleep at night, or even a dead tooth or root canal are just a few of the possible causes. To understand what can make teeth sensitive, it would help to recall the different parts of the tooth.

In a nutshell, teeth are made up of both hard and soft tissues, where each part can trigger teeth sensitivity. For instance, the enamel, the visible and outermost layer that serves as a barrier to protect the tooth, is prone to erosion and wear and tear over time. This leads to sensitive teeth because it leaves the dentin exposed.

As mentioned, there are many causes of sensitive teeth and enamel wear is just one of them. If you want to eat hot/cold food/drinks again without experiencing discomfort, try doing the following which may help relieve sensitive teeth:

1. Change your toothbrush – One of the causes of enamel erosion has to do with brushing. Are you brushing your teeth gently in an up and down motion? If you’re already applying proper brushing techniques, then consider trading your hard-bristled toothbrush to a soft one. Those hard bristles can damage your enamel. Also, always take your time when brushing—don’t be vigorous; accomplishing the task faster does not mean you’re cleaning your teeth better.

2. Avoid acidic foods – For the meantime or until you can visit your dentist to consult about your sensitive teeth, try to avoid acidic food and drinks. This includes coffee, carbonated drinks, and certain fruits, especially citrus fruits. This is because acidic food can soften and contribute to the breaking down of enamel. If you must eat these foods, at least for the beverages, you can use a straw so it will not come into contact with your teeth. Also, contrary to what you might expect, don’t brush your teeth immediately after consuming acidic food. You should neutralize the acid first by drinking a glass of milk.

3. Use desensitizing toothpaste – Fortunately, there are special toothpastes available for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes contain compounds that can reduce nerve excitation and block transmission of pain signals. It must be noted that desensitizing toothpaste does not treat or cure teeth sensitivity in any way; it only relieves symptoms.

4. Wear a mouth guard – Grinding your teeth while you’re asleep can wear down your enamel, and damage broken, chipped teeth even further. Unfortunately, this is something patients do not notice and have no conscious control of. If you’re told that you grind your teeth at night, you should consider wearing a mouth guard. You can get one from your dentist, and while you’re at it, be sure to consult him/her about your sensitive teeth.

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