Can't Eat Your Favorite Ice Cream? What You Can Do About Your Sensitive Teeth

Do you have a sharp, sudden pain when eating or drinking your favorite hot drink, frozen treat or delicious fruit? Perhaps you have sensitive teeth. This problem is a common issue for many Americans. But there are a few things you can do to alleviate the discomfort that comes from sensitive teeth. 

Get a Checkup

If you experience this kind of sharp pain when eating or drinking over a period of several days or more, it's time to visit the dentist. Your family dentist will begin by examining your teeth both by hand and with imaging equipment (such as X-rays) to see if the tooth had been damaged. Broken teeth, cracked fillings, nerve problems or abscesses can all cause sudden, painful symptoms. 

However, if your dentist is unable to find a specific injury to your teeth or gums, you may simply be suffering from a breakdown in the enamel of the teeth. To treat this problem at home, it's important to understand what sensitive teeth are. 

Understand the Problem

Although the tooth is labeled as "sensitive," it's actually a problem of worn enamel or receding gums. Beneath the surface of the tooth is a layer of tissue called the dentin. Within the dentin are tiny tubes which can become exposed if the enamel or the gums have been worn down or damaged. It is this exposure to certain elements -- usually temperature and acidity of foods, drinks or even the air -- that causes pain. 

By knowing why your teeth become sensitive, you can take steps toward reducing that pain and avoiding further damage. 

Make Some Changes

Making a few changes in your home dental routine can help ease pain. Switching to a softer toothbrush and not brushing too hard (the bristles of your brush shouldn't be askew or pressed down) will lessen irritation. Using fluoride rinse and a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth are other good choices. These toothpastes help seal over the tiny tubules in the dentin, reducing exposure. You can even leave some such toothpaste on your sensitive teeth overnight for a few weeks to aid the process. You may also want to avoid certain acidic foods, such as lemons, tomato sauce, pickles or grapefruit. These not only can cause pain but can also exacerbate the problem. 

If these home remedies don't do the trick, your dentist may be able to place a fluoride varnish on your teeth to help seal them from exposure. 

Whether it's an immediate resolution or an improvement over time, you can experience relief from your dental sensitivity. By working with your dentist and taking some simple steps to help yourself at home, you can win the battle with your sensitive teeth.