If a jolt of pain surges through your body when you chow down or sip on something hot or cold, you’re not alone. You’re actually one in eight people that have sensitive teeth, according to the results of a new study published in the March Journal of the American Dental Association.
“Sensitive teeth often occurs when enamel on the outside of the tooth, or the tissue between the tooth and gum called cementum, wears away, exposing small tubes that connect nerves inside the tooth to triggers outside of the tooth,” says lead author Dr. Joana Cunha-Cruz.
For the study dentists in 37 different practices polled their patients to see if they were experiencing sensitivity and examined them to rule out other causes like cavities or swollen gums. About 12 percent of the patients were diagnosed with sensitive teeth.
The results of the study will help dentists gauge how many of their patients are dealing with the problem and hopefully inspire new treatments. As of now, the best bet for sensitive teeth is over-the-counter toothpastes. When the over-the-counter options aren’t working, more invasive treatments like gum grafting, crowns and bonding can give relief by fixing a flaw that causes sensitivity.
Dr. Richard Trushkowsky, associate director of International Aesthetic Dentistry at New York University, offers these tips for dealing with teeth sensitivity:
- Stop using at-home whitening kits, which can be causing your sensitivity.
- Brush with a soft brush and don’t use it “horizontally, like a weed whacker”.
- Drink water immediately after having acidic food or drink, such as fruit, orange juice, wine or coffee and avoid brushing for 10 to 15 minutes afterwards.
- Wear a mouth guard at night if you grind your teeth. This will help prevent wearing down the enamel that can lead to sensitive teeth.