If you wince with pain after sipping a hot cup of coffee or chewing a piece of ice, chances are that you may suffer from “dentin hypersensitivity,” or more commonly known as sensitive teeth.
Hot and cold temperature changes cause your teeth to expand and contract. Over time, your teeth can develop microscopic cracks that allow these sensations to seep through to the nerves. Exposed areas of the tooth can cause pain and even affect or change your eating, drinking, and breathing habits.
At least forty-five million adults in the United States suffer from sensitive teeth at some point.
Abrasive toothpastes are sometimes the culprit of sensitive teeth. Ingredients found in some whitening toothpastes that lighten and remove stains from enamel, and sodium pyrophosphate, the key ingredient in tartar-control toothpastes, may increase tooth sensitivity.
In some cases, a desensitizing toothpaste, sealants, and filling materials including fluoride may alleviate some of the pain associated with sensitive teeth.
Sometimes, a sensitive tooth may be confused by a patient for a cavity or abscess that is not yet visible.
In any case, contact your dentist if you notice any change in your teeth’s sensitivity to temperature.