WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Nov. 10, 2009 -- Brushing your teeth too hard
and consumption of acidic food and beverages are the leading contributors of
sensitive teeth, according to a nationwide survey of dentists.
One-third of 700 dentists surveyed by the Academy of General Dentistry say
acidic foods and beverages are the most common contributors to tooth
sensitivity, followed by toothbrushing technique.
Sensitive teeth is a condition that's a result of nerve irritation in the
tooth. It's characterized by discomfort or sharp and sudden pain in one or more
teeth and is often set off by hot or cold foods or drinks, breathing in cold
air, or pressure on the teeth. The condition affects at least 40 million
American adults, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.
Van B. Hayward, DMD, professor in the department of oral rehabilitation in
the School of Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia, says aggressive
toothbrushing and consumption of acidic substances can wear down the enamel on
teeth and also affect the gums.
"When the protective layer of enamel erodes or gum lines recede, a softer
tissue in your teeth called dentin can be left exposed," Hayward says in a news
release. "Dentin connects to the tooth's inner nerve center, so when it is
unprotected, the nerve center can be left unshielded and vulnerable to
sensations, including pain."
The survey also showed that dentists say that certain toothpastes,
mouthwashes, tooth-whitening products, broken or cracked teeth, bulimia, and acid
reflux also contribute to enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity.
The Academy of General Dentistry recommends the following steps be taken to
alleviate sensitive teeth:
SOURCES:News release, Academy of General Dentistry.2009 Hypersensitivity Survey.Academy of General Dentistry web site: "Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?"
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