Many of us take our teeth for granted; we expect to be able to eat and drink our favorites foods without pain or problems. However, when tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or acidic foods occurs, it can make it difficult to enjoy everything from a cup of coffee to an ice cream cone. If you’re experiencing pain when eating or drinking, it may be time to talk to your dentist about tooth sensitivity.
What is tooth sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is the layman’s term for dentin hypersensitivity. This occurs when food and drinks that are hot, cold, sweet, or acidic are painful to consume. Those with dentin hypersensitivity may also experience pain when breathing extremely cold air during the winter.
Tooth sensitivity is extremely common; a study by the Journal of the American Dental Association found that as many as one in eight adults experience tooth sensitivity.
"The condition is impacting people's lives, and they may avoid some foods," said research assistant professor at the University of Washington and study author, Dr. Joana Cunha-Cruz.
What causes tooth sensitivity?
Dentin hypersensitivity is caused when the dentin on root areas becomes exposed. This exposure is often the result of receded gums, gingivitis, or periodontal disease. Studies have found that about half of the adult population in the United States suffer from some form of periodontal disease, while more than 70% of Americans aged 65 and older suffer from gum recession.
The root of a tooth lacks the enamel layers of the crown; exposed roots are the most common causes of tooth sensitivity. Overzealous brushing, using an abrasive toothpaste, and eating an extremely acidic diet (or drinking sodas) are all habits that can increase the risk of dentin exposure. Likewise, those suffering from acid reflux, bulimia, or GERD may suffer erosion from increased acid in the mouth.
Preventing tooth sensitivity
The best way to prevent tooth sensitivity is through good oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day with a low abrasion toothpaste, regularly flossing, and eating a diet that is low in acid can help prevent erosion. Likewise, consider using oral health boosting products between brushings, such as those that include xylitol. Xylitol has been clinically proven to reduce bad bacteria in the mouth, helping to prevent oral decay. At 4ever Mints, all of our products contain xylitol. This gives our customers the longest-lasting breath mint on the market – plus the benefit of a healthier mouth!