Have you found yourself avoiding hot or cold foods? Are you passing up ice cream or iced tea? Skipping that cup of soup or no longer indulging in your morning cup of coffee? If you’re avoiding foods that are hot or cold because of tooth hypersensitivity, you’re not alone; tooth sensitivity is affecting millions of Americans across the country at higher rates than ever before.

Tooth sensitivity affects both men and women and all age groups. The pain can be minor or significant, but either way, it causes frustration and disruption of your daily life. Fortunately, we can help.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

The technical term for tooth sensitivity is dentin hypersensitivity. This is because as the hard, bone-like, outer tooth enamel erodes, the next layer of the tooth – the dentin – is exposed.

When this layer is exposed, many people feel a sharp, stinging sensation every time the area is exposed to stimuli. These stimuli include changes in temperature; hot and cold foods; crunchy, salty, sugary or very hard foods; and certain chemicals.

Causes of Sudden Sensitivity

Have you suddenly noticed tooth sensitivity? Several factors can cause sensitivity to develop:

Gum Disease: Gum disease in advanced stages can leave enamel eroded. When this happens, you will experience sudden tooth sensitivity. If you experience this, it’s time to give us a call.

Bruxism: Do you grind or clench your teeth? If so, this can cause your tooth enamel to erode prematurely and cause tooth sensitivity. In addition to sudden tooth sensitivity, some signs of clenching and grinding include tense jaw muscles, headaches, pain when eating and neck pain.

Clenching and grinding the teeth is often a consequence of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and sleep apnea.

Bad Brushing: Are you brushing too hard or too often? How often do you brush your teeth each day? On average, you should brush at least twice per day, but if you’re brushing too hard, you can cause tooth sensitivity. Be sure to use a soft-bristled brush and a gentle touch to keep your enamel healthy.

Do these situations apply to you? If so, there are a few steps you can take to reduce sensitivity and stop damaging your enamel. The first thing we recommend is to call Dr. van Zyl at 479-337-4070 for an appointment to find out what could be the cause of your tooth sensitivity.