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The sudden jolt of pain caused by tooth sensitivity is the worst — especially if you’re enjoying your favorite iced drink or a scoop of ice cream.

Millions of Americans suffer from sensitive teeth and recurring episodes of temporary discomfort and pain.

But here’s a reason to smile: Tooth sensitivity is treatable.

What is tooth sensitivity?

As you know, pain arising from tooth sensitivity is caused by contact with certain foods that are either too cold or hot.

People with tooth sensitivity will brace for pain when they bite into food that’s not the ideal temperature. The pain is uncomfortable, but thankfully, it will come and go.

Cause of tooth sensitivity
Having tooth sensitivity can be frustrating, especially if you do everything right with your dental care like brushing and flossing regularly.

The discomfort or pain associated with tooth sensitivity is caused when the dentin, which is the layer below the tooth enamel, is exposed.

The issue is that dentin and nerves are interconnected. This relationship can trigger sharp pain when the teeth are exposed to something too hot or cold.

Some causes include brushing too hard to the point of wearing down enamel. Other causes include:

  • Cracked or broken teeth.
  • Receding gums and gingivitis.
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism).
  • Acidic food, drinks or overuse of mouthwash.
  • Teeth whitening.
  • Some dental procedures.

In some cases, activities such as teeth grinding and drinking acidic beverages may damage enamel, increasing the risk of tooth pain and discomfort. Teeth whitening may cause temporary sensitivity, but this normally resolves once the whitening process is complete.

How is tooth sensitivity treated?
Several options to address this issue are available.

The first steps are those you can control, such as scaling back on highly acidic foods and using a soft-bristled toothbrush and desensitizing toothpaste. Reducing the frequency of tooth whitening is also helpful in some cases.

Patients may also pursue long-term solutions. You’ll need to consult with your dental professional first to review some of the options and understand your specific underlying causes. Depending on the findings, your dentist will recommend dental procedures that will provide stronger and longer lasting protection of dentin and reduce or eliminate these uncomfortable and painful moments.