Healthy Smiles By Rita Tempel, DDS – This column was originally published in the Gettysburg Times, February 21, 2019
“I’m chilled to the bone”—that’s an expression we use when we feel like the cold winter weather has literally permeated right through our bodies to our bones. This winter’s weather has certainly put that expression to the test!
So when you’re outside in the bitterly cold weather, do you ever feel a sensitivity in your teeth?
Or, maybe you feel pain or sensitivity when you eat or drink extremely cold or hot items such as ice cream or coffee. If you identify with any of these situations, you may have sensitive teeth, and I’d like to explain what that means.
First, having sensitive teeth isn’t always tied to temperature–you might wince occasionally when you’re brushing or flossing your teeth.
Having sensitive teeth can mean that your layer of enamel may be worn or thin, thereby making your teeth more vulnerable, especially to extreme temperatures. Enamel protects the crowns of healthy teeth, but without enamel your nerves and cells inside your teeth are affected by cold, hot, acidic, or sticky foods.
Sensitive teeth can be caused by:
- Tooth decay or cavities
- Fractured teeth
- Fillings that are worn
- Gum disease
- Exposed tooth root
Your dentist can help! Talk to your dentist about your sensitivity and describe the situations when you notice pain. Depending on your situation, the solution could involve:
- Regular checkups: Maintaining dental checkups at least twice a year can address any tooth decay or cavities quickly, warding off painful sensitivity.
- Fluoride: This in-office treatment can strengthen your tooth enamel.
- Changing your toothpaste: There are several toothpastes on the market that are specifically designed to help patients with sensitive teeth. These toothpastes include compounds that help block sensitivity from reaching the nerve. They can be a great solution for many patients; however, it’s important to talk to your dentist because regular use could be masking the symptoms of a more serious, underlying issue.
- A crown or additional cosmetic work: A skilled cosmetic dentist can help you replace old, worn crowns or fillings, which could decrease your sensitivity.
The most important, effective way to treat teeth sensitivity is to stay in regular contact with your dentist by seeing her or him every six months for regular checkups. Show yourself some love this Valentine’s Day and make a dental appointment!
Dr. Rita Tempel is the owner and founder of Gettysburg Smiles, a cosmetic and family dental practice located at 2018 York Road (Route 30 East), Gettysburg. She is an Accreditation Candidate of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and an American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine Qualified Dentist. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com, follow Gettysburg Smiles on Facebook, or call 717-339-0033.