- Tooth sensitivity is the pain experienced when you eat or drink something cold or hot
- Many patients wonder if sensitive teeth correspond to one’s age
- Fortunately, sensitive teeth can be prevented and easily managed
Have you ever experienced a sharp pain in one or more of your teeth when you’ve taken a bite of something hot or cold or had a gulp of an icy or sugary beverage? If so, you likely have what is called “sensitive teeth.” Sensitive teeth are a common occurrence for many people. In fact, it’s estimated that around 40 million adults suffer from sensitive teeth.
Many patients wonder if sensitive teeth correspond to one’s age. The answer is, yes. While patients of all ages can suffer from sensitive teeth, young adults are the most likely group to experience sensitivity in their teeth. Typically adults between the ages of 30 and 40 report the most cases of tooth sensitivity. The reason for this is still unknown, but it could be related to the fact that as we age the structure of our teeth changes, leaving them more vulnerable. The general wear and tear on tooth enamel that comes with age could also be a major contributor.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity is the pain experienced when you eat or drink something cold or hot. Some teeth are so sensitive that even breathing in cold air can cause pain. Usually the pain only lasts for a few seconds, but it can happen often throughout the day.
Sensitive teeth often develop due to eroded tooth enamel or receding gums. Whenever the tooth dentin or tooth’s roots are exposed, pain is the result. Tooth enamel is easily damaged by over brushing or the use of excessive force when brushing. Acidic foods, teeth grinding, and acid reflux can also lead to weakened enamel and tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity resulting from gum recession often occurs in older adults. Diabetes, periodontal disease, inadequate flossing and brushing, and tobacco use contribute to gum recession, too.
Caring for Sensitive Teeth
Sensitive teeth can be prevented and easily managed. By brushing carefully and flossing regularly, you can reduce your chances of developing sensitive teeth. It’s important that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a less abrasive toothpaste, such as a desensitizing toothpaste, to help protect your enamel and prevent unnecessary enamel erosion.
If you begin to experience tooth pain, it’s important to consult with a dental professional immediately. They can help identify the cause and prescribe the best course of treatment. While tooth sensitivity is not necessarily something you need to worry about, tooth pain can be caused by other, more serious dental issues, such as a cavity or cracked tooth.