At the point where you find yourself asking if you really have sensitive teeth, you may be in the same boat as those people asking if something really hurts. On the other hand, all people may find their teeth bother them at some point in their lives without the discomfort being long term enough or bothersome enough to cause them to take any action about the discomfort. Further, it’s important not to ignore tooth discomfort altogether. Blaming all discomfort on sensitivity might cause you to miss a bigger problem the pain was trying to signal. Sensitive teeth tend to have certain common signs in all sufferers. If you’re concerned that you might have sensitive teeth or are trying to decide if it’s a more urgent problem, ask yourself:
1. Does it hurt when I eat cold or hot foods?
Generally speaking, sensitive teeth are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, so very hot foods and drinks, like soup and coffee, or very cold foods like ice cream and ice, will cause a jolt of discomfort when you first take a bite. Alternating between cold and hot foods and beverages also is likely to cause misery, or at least decrease your enjoyment of your meal.
2. Does it hurt when I breathe in cold air?
If taking a breath on a chilly morning makes you wince and cover your teeth, it’s likely that you are suffering from sensitive teeth. Much like cold foods, cold air can cause varying amounts of discomfort for the sensitivity sufferer.
3. Do acidic foods make me uncomfortable?
Yup, acidic foods, including super sugary foods, are common sensitivity discomfort triggers. If eating tomato sauce, sipping lemonade, or munching on candy induce smile misery instead of grins of happiness, sensitivity may be the culprit.
4. Are brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings uncomfortable?
It’s important to maintain clean teeth and practice excellent oral hygiene, particularly if you think tooth sensitivity may be a problem for you. However, if you are a sensitivity suffer, you may find that brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings are uncomfortable. If you think you have sensitivity and it’s interfering with your ability to care with your teeth, make sure you see your dentist for help right away.
5. Does the pain seem to come from the root of the tooth? Does it seem to come and go randomly?
Frequently, sensitivity pain will seem to start from the base of the tooth and radiate up. That said, even if you can’t narrow down the source of the pain, you may still have sensitivity. Sometimes sensitivity pain is nebulous, but it tends to be more random and not always appear in one specific spot.
Tooth sensitivity happens when the inside of the tooth loses its protective covering of enamel and is exposed to the air or foods. Common causes of long term, chronic sensitivity are thin or thinning enamel and poor brushing technique, particularly pushing too hard and using too hard a toothbrush. Receding gums, which expose more of the tooth root, and grinding and clenching teeth also can cause or contribute to sensitivity.
Sensitivity can also be short term. In particular, tooth whitening is associated with short term, but sometimes significant, tooth sensitivity. Having certain restorative work like crowns and fillings can cause short term sensitivity.
If you think you may be suffering from sensitivity, you can touch base with your dentist to make sure that there isn’t an underlying problem that is causing your pain. It’s important to remember that tooth decay can cause pain, usually localized to a specific spot, that can be confused for sensitivity pain.
There are a number of home care products that can help with mild to moderate tooth sensitivity. A number of them contain a medicine to slightly numb the exposed nerves. You might want to consider treating with a product that contains nano hydroxyapatite, as studies have shown that it can markedly decrease sensitivity.