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If you look at a cup of hot coffee or tea, or a cold soda, or crunchy foods, with a mingled sense of anticipation and dread – anticipation for the tasty goodness, dread for the shooting pain you know you will feel in your teeth when you take a bite or a swallow – then you may be among the one in eight Americans who suffer from “tooth sensitivity.” Tooth sensitivity, for all that its name sound relatively benign, can be quite maddening. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to combat the condition once you have identified the cause of your particular brand of sensitivity.

If you have a tooth or teeth that are intermittently sensitive to pressure, then you may have “bruised” or otherwise traumatized that tooth or teeth. A good hard chomp on a popcorn kernel will do it, as can nighttime tooth grinding and dental work such as fillingsroot canals, etc. The cure for this type of sensitivity is time. The bruising will heal and the pain will go away. It just takes a while. If the pressure sensitivity is constant or frequent, however, then you may have tooth decay, a cracked tooth, or other issues that should be checked out by your Alpharetta dentist.

Unlike sensitivity to pressure, sensitivity to temperature does usually mean that the tooth itself has been somehow compromised. Most commonly, enamel wears away and becomes thin or wears away entirely, exposing the dentin beneath. Over time, brushing too hard, eating acidic foods, using too much mouthwash, tooth grinding, and using those whitening toothpastes that we are so enamored of abrade and wear away at our enamel, leaving our teeth sensitive to the slightest change in temperature.

If you experience tooth sensitivity, you should absolutely consult your dentist to rule out any more severe dental problems, such as cracked teeth or decay, as the cause, but there are also steps that you can take to reduce the sensitivity of your teeth. Start by throwing out your old toothbrush and getting a soft bristled brush, instead. Be gentle with your teeth when you brush. And while you’re at it, ditch the mouthwash and your old toothpaste.

Look for a desensitizing toothpaste to use, and switch to an alcohol free mouthwash. Don’t just brush with the desensitizing toothpaste, either. Before bed, put a small amount of the paste on your finger or a cotton swab. Spread the paste on your teeth and spit. Don’t rinse. Within a few weeks, this treatment should help reduce sensitivity somewhat.

After you’ve changed up your oral hygiene routine, if your teeth are still too sensitive for comfort, swear off hard candy and acidic foods. Sucking on hard candy contributes to enamel erosion, as do acidic foods. Also if you are a tobacco chewer/snuff dipper, stop. Try an over the counter fluoride rinse, or ask your dentist to add a fluoride treatment to your next visit. Finally, if you are a nighttime tooth grinder, invest in a mouth guard – whether custom fit from your dentist or over the counter “boil and bite” – the point is to keep from grinding your teeth at night and adding to your sensitivity woes during the day

For additional information, regarding your tooth sensitivity, contact your Alpharetta Dentist today!