Does the thought of biting into an ice cream cone make you wince? Are you always trying to sip hot coffee without letting it actually touch your teeth? You aren't alone. Tooth sensitivity is really common — and it really hurts. Don't fret! Here's what causes sensitive teeth and some things you can do to build up your enamel and help find relief.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Each tooth is made up of four dental tissues: enamel, dentin, cementum and pulp. Enamel, the outermost layer, protects the tooth from damage. Enamel is the strongest substance in the human body, so it's pretty tough. Just beneath the enamel is a yellowish hard tissue called dentin. Dentin contains microscopic canals that can carry substances straight to the center of the tooth. Cementum is another hard tissue that specifically protects the root. The pulp, the soft tissue at the tooth's center, provides the blood and nutrients.
When the enamel wears down, it exposes the dentin, making teeth look dingy and creating a pathway straight to the nerves. When dentin is exposed to an external stimulus, such as heat or cold, pressure, or sweet and sour foods and drinks, it triggers a sharp pain.
Finding Relief from Sensitive Teeth
There are some habits you can implement to build up the enamel on your teeth and fight sensitivity. Sticky and sugary foods spike acid attacks in your mouth that strip enamel of the minerals it needs to stay strong. After an acid attack, saliva fills the mouth, cleaning debris from your teeth and redepositing lost minerals. Supporting remineralization is one way to fight enamel erosion. Use a remineralizing toothpaste like Colgate® Enamel Health™ Whitening Toothpaste to replenish natural calcium to your teeth. Space out your meals and snacks so that saliva has adequate time to clean and remineralize your enamel. If you feel like your mouth is dry, chew some sugar-free gum to encourage saliva production.
Strong enamel is your best bet against tooth sensitivity. Make healthy choices that support remineralization to protect your enamel from erosion.