Sensitive teeth have been becoming much more common, causing discomfort to millions of people and becoming a much more frequent complaint in our practice, Mark W. Langberg, DDS, MAGD, PC . While receding gums, cavities, loose fillings or cracks are chief causes of tooth sensitivity, the increasing popularity of acidic foods and especially drinks (think sports drinks) have created a generation of dental hypersensitives.
It turns out that citric foodstuffs like lemons, tomatoes, pineapple, apple sauce, pickles, strawberries and vinegary salad dressings can erode and eat away at tooth enamel over time and aggravate sensitivity. Drinks high in citric acid and sugar (think orange juice, lemonade, wine, soda pop) only worsen the erosion. Soda also contains phosphoric acid, a potent enamel etcher. A recent study has shown that frequent drinking of most sports drinks are particularly bad for our teeth and have caused an epidemic of eroded and sensitive teeth among our youth.
Drinking the beverage with a straw is one option. Consuming the drink at room temperature is another modification you can make. Be sure to swallow quickly to limit acid exposure. Watering down the sports drink, rinsing the mouth with water, or skipping the trigger beverage all together will give the nerve endings inside your teeth a break and may solve the problem. Spacing out exposure to acidic foods or ones that are extremely hot or cold may help with the pain, too. Drinking milk or eating a piece of cheese may neutralize the pH of your mouth after eating something acidic.
Using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth may relieve chronic oral discomfort. Brush with it several times a day, using a soft brush and a gentle touch. It is important to wait 60 minutes to brush teeth after eating acidic foods to give softened enamel time to harden. Coating the sore tooth near the gum line with a thin film of desensitizing toothpaste (such as Sensodyne) before bed and leaving it on can act desensitize teeth during the night. Just be sure not to drink water after applying. The paste will fill the dentin tubules beneath the enamel and can allow nerve endings to return to normal. High fluoride prescription toothpastes such as Prevident 5000+ have also been shown to be helpful.
If the sensitivity does not go away after a few weeks of behavior modification, it’s time to see a dentist. You may have a cracked tooth or need a new filling. Treatment in the early stages is usually quick and easy, but if decay sets in or infection has developed, intervention may involve a root canal or a crown to cover a damaged tooth. Regular dental exams and professional cleanings with a qualified dental hygienist are always a part of a healthy lifestyle and allow us to deal with sensitive areas before they become big problems. Call us at 248-356-8790 or visit us at www.DrLangberg.comfor help with your sensitive teeth!
Well, that’s all for now. Until next time,
Mark W. Langberg, DDS, MAGD