Five Things That May Be Aggravating Your Oversensitive Teeth

Posted on: 12 November 2014

Does just the thought of chewing ice, biting into a sugar-filled confection or slurping down a hot drink give you the chills? If so, you probably suffer from oversensitive teeth, and you're not alone. One survey approximates that one in eight people has overly sensitive teeth, a result of teeth whose enamel has worn down or whose roots are exposed. Read on for a list of five things you may be doing to aggravate your already hypersensitive teeth.

1. If you brush your teeth at least twice a day, pat yourself on the back for maintaining good oral care habits. However, if you're using an overly hard-bristled brush or applying too much force while brushing, you can actually be negating all that tooth brushing by wearing away enamel and exposing your teeth's dentin. Dentin contains microscopic hollow tubes that, when exposed, can allow heat and cold or acidic foods to stimulate the (normally insulated) nerves inside the teeth. 

2. Thousands of people use at-home tooth whitening products on a daily basis. These products range from less-effective whitening toothpastes to strong solutions applied to the teeth via temporary strips. If your tooth sensitivity coincided with your use of such products, consider discontinuing them.

3. Do you grind your teeth? For some, clenching their teeth is a natural reaction to stressful situations. Others may not even know they grind their teeth, since it often occurs while sleeping and can be the result of crooked teeth or an abnormal bite. Using a mouth guard at night can significantly reduce the pain associated with grinding your sensitive teeth. Many drugstores offer generic mouth guards, but the best guards are those that have been custom fitted to your mouth and teeth. 

4. Many over-the-counter mouthwash products contain ingredients that can heighten your teeth's sensitivity, especially if the dentin is already exposed. Less acidic fluoride solutions are available for use and are just as effective as other traditional mouthwashes. Ask your dentist about your options.

5. If acidic food and drinks like oranges, tomatoes, and tea top your list of favorite things to consume, your diet might be partly to blame for your sensitive teeth. Acidic foods can wear down enamel, once again exposing that sensitive dentin.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, talk to a dentist like Stephen P. Cary, DMD about what you can do. There are certain procedures that have been shown to reduce tooth sensitivity, and the ADA recommends regular visits to the dentist, ranging from once a year to several times a year, depending on your needs.