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Understand and Treat Sensitive Teeth

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Understanding and Treating Sensitive Teeth fotofabrika/Fotolia

Approximately 40 million adults in the United States experience regular
tooth sensitivity

Sensitive teeth can impact what you are able to eat and drink due to the uncomfortable sensation. Cases of extreme sensitivity can be spurred by a sensation as light as a breath of cold air.

When the protective outer layer of your tooth enamel thins or your gums recede, the dentin or root of your tooth that contains sensitive nerve endings become exposed, causing your teeth to feel more sensitive than usual. The sensation can feel like a chill or sensitivity in the teeth, or even as severe as a shooting pain in the tooth.

Most commonly, sensitivity is triggered by eating or drinking cold, hot, sweet or sour foods. Many people have felt mild sensitivity when they eat cold foods like popsicles or containing ice.

Your teeth may be sensitive for a number of reasons. Read about several of the causes of tooth sensitivity below:

- Extreme tooth decay that has eroded the tooth enamel off the surfaces of the teeth

- Brushing teeth with a hard toothbrush or brushing too aggressively

- Frequent consumption of acidic foods and beverages, like sugars, sodas or coffee

- Bruxism (tooth grinding)

- Gum recession that exposes the root of the tooth

- Worn or loose fillings, crowns or bridges

- Overuse of whitening products like gels, strips, lights and pastes

- Acid reflux or bulimia

- Temporary sensitivity after dental work like bridges and crowns

Feeling sensitivity in a tooth that has recently had dental work, like a filling or crown, can be a sign that there is a leak or crack in the restoration. Not attending to cavities or gum disease can cause sensitivity in and around the teeth.

Both of these cases require an exam, x-rays and treatment from your dentist.

Overuse of whitening products is a common cause of sensitivity because the chemicals in whitening products can thin the enamel on the surface of the teeth.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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