Ever sink your teeth into a delicious bowl of ice cream only to wince in pain due to sensitivity? Maybe you experience this sensation when drinking cold water or biting into a hot meal, too. Welp, you definitely need a top toothpaste for sensitive teeth, then.
Sensitive teeth is a relatively common condition, affecting up to 85 percent of the population, according to Alan S. Law, DDS, PhD, a board-certified practicing endodontist in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. There are several reasons someone might have sensitive teeth, including cavities, cracks, gum recession, and recent dental treatment (such as fillings, bleaching, or orthodontics).
Another fairly common reason people have tooth sensitivity is from exposure of dentin, which is the inner layer of hard tissue in teeth. “Exposure of dentin can be the result of severe wear on teeth, or gum recession,” Dr. Law explains. “In either case, individuals might experience increased sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures which goes away after the cold or hot is gone.”
The good news is that you can keep tooth sensitivity at bay by using desensitizing products, which can be purchased over-the-counter. To avoid getting sensitive teeth, you should use a soft toothbrush, practice good oral hygiene, avoid grinding or clenching your teeth (which can cause cracks), as well as maintain regular dental visits to identify and address any potential causes for sensitivity. (Oh, and don’t forget to floss!) If you experience prolonged tooth pain to hot and cold, or spontaneous pain, it may be a sign of a more serious dental condition and should be addressed by a dentist, Dr. Law says.
If tooth sensitivity is caused by dentin exposure, your dentist might recommend an over-the-counter toothpaste for sensitive teeth. “The toothpaste acts by applying a protective coating over the dentin,” Dr. Law says. “Some toothpastes might also act by making the nerves in the teeth less active.” To make things easier on you as you shop, check out some of the best toothpastes made for sensitive teeth.