Dental News

The Truth About Sensitive Teeth

August 4, 2015

Discover the true facts behind some of the most persistent myths about sensitive teeth.

The Truth About Sensitive TeethAre you troubled by teeth that are sensitive to heat, cold, or contact? Don’t just live with the problem! Get the information you need to improve your oral health and relieve sensitivity right here.

Myth: Sensitive teeth are only a problem for old people.

Fact: Age has nothing to do with sensitivity. In fact, the age group most commonly affected is 25 to 30 year olds.

Myth: Sensitivity means you have a cavity.

Fact: While some instances of tooth pain are indeed caused by cavities, if many or all of your teeth are sensitive it is far more likely that the pain is caused by receding gums or enamel erosion. Either of these problems provides a route for stimuli to reach the nerves in your tooth and cause pain.

Myth: Sensitivity means you’re not brushing well enough.

Fact: Prolonged contact with acids from foods like sodas and citrus fruit, as well as from plaque bacteria, can indeed contribute to enamel erosion and cause sensitivity. However, brushing more vigorously is not the answer to the problem. Brushing too hard (especially with an old, frayed and damaged toothbrush) can actually make enamel erosion worse.

Myth: Enamel erosion can be prevented by brushing more quickly after eating.

Fact: It is true that the longer an acidic environment persists in your mouth, the greater the potential for enamel erosion to progress. However, brushing immediately after eating or drinking something acidic will not necessarily protect you. In fact, it can actually worsen enamel erosion. Your teeth will be temporarily weakened by the acids, and if you brush too soon you may score or scratch the enamel. A better way to combat acid erosion is to eat or drink something non-acidic such as milk or at least rinse your mouth out with water to help return your mouth’s pH to a normal level.

Myth: Mouthwash can help cure sensitive teeth.

Fact: Many over-the-counter mouthwashes are acidic, which can further erode tooth enamel and worsen sensitivity.

Myth: There’s nothing you can do about sensitive teeth.

Fact: Sensitivity can be alleviated or even eliminated with proper care. Talk to your dentist about your sensitive teeth so that he or she can identify the cause of the problem and recommend an appropriate solution.

Myth: It might be too late to treat your sensitive teeth.

Fact: It is never too late to improve tooth sensitivity with a dentist’s help. While the worst cases may not respond to simple measures like remineralizing toothpastes or fluoride treatments, your dentist can take other steps such as using bonding material to cover root structure exposed by receding gums or applying veneers to protect exposed dentin on the front surfaces of teeth.