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Sensitive Teeth

By: Chanda D. Bennett, DMD

Do you have sensitive teeth? Did you know that one in five people in the United States complain about sensitive teeth at some point in their life? If you fall into this category then read on.

Sensitive teeth, formally known as dentin hypersensitivity is short, sharp pain that occurs due to exposed dentin. Dentin is the layer of tooth below the enamel and is porous like a sponge. When fluid contacts these pores it irritates the nerve and causes pain.

The first step to preventing sensitive teeth is to prevent exposure of the dentin layer.

Limit your exposure to acidic beverages, which wear away the enamel layer. Orange juice, sodas and sports drinks are all acidic.

Use a soft toothbrush and correct pressure when brushing to prevent exposure due to gum recession. Look at your toothbrush, if the bristles are bent you are brushing too hard.

Limiting the use of whitening toothpaste; I have so many patients that complain about sensitive teeth and after a short chat I discover the cause is their whitening toothpaste. The whitening agents can cause sensitivity. Use a fluoride based toothpaste made for sensitive teeth instead. Toothpaste made for sensitive teeth helps block the pores in the dentin to stop the pain.

The second step is to talk to your dentist. Your dentist can help find the reason for your sensitivity and has treatments that can be applied if needed. So the next time you are in the dentist’s office, be sure to talk about your sensitive teeth.