People often come to my East Setauket dental office and complain of sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity may be caused by erosion of the enamel outer layer of the teeth and exposure of the more sensitive dentin layer. This erosion may be caused by aggressive tooth brushing or acidic foods and drinks. Some toothpastes, mouth washes, or tooth-whitening products can also cause tooth erosion. Bulimia and acid reflux can also severely erode the teeth.
Some patients manage sensitive teeth by simply avoiding cold foods and drinks. Other patients avoid brushing the sensitive areas. I recommend that patients use a desensitizing toothpaste, such as Denquel or Sensodyne. In the office I apply a fluoride varnish to the sensitive areas and this helps to reduce sensitivity. Patients should also use a soft-bristled toothbrush. A hard toothbrush may wear away the enamel. It is important to practice good oral hygiene: floss every day and brush at least two times a day for 2-3 minutes. Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and brush gently in a circular motion. Hold the toothbrush in your fingertips instead of in the palm. Avoid very acidic foods and beverages. Visit the dentist to be sure that the sensitivity is not due to dental caries, a cracked tooth or gum disease.