Sensitivity is one of the most common oral health complaints among UK adults. Official figures are difficult to come by, given how millions of sufferers never report the issue to their dentists. Nevertheless, it’s estimated that up to one in every five adults will experience sensitivity at some point during their life.
On the plus side, sensitivity isn’t usually indicative of anything particularly serious. In most cases, the pain and discomfort is attributed to tiny holes in the teeth, which when exposed to hot or cold temperatures irritate the nerves. In some cases, foods and drinks that are particularly sweet or acidic can also cause discomfort.
Still, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the pain and discomfort of sensitive teeth can be genuinely life-affecting. To such an extent that many of those affected do their best to steer clear of certain foods and drinks entirely.
But what is interesting is that despite the fact that sensitive teeth are so common, there remains widespread confusion and misinformation about the condition. Unfortunate, given that the better you understand sensitivity, the easier it becomes to control or even eliminate the problem.
So with this in mind, what follows is a brief overview of six common myths about tooth sensitivity and the respective truths behind them:
1. You’re Either Born With It or You’re Not
First of all, it’s often assumed that sensitivity is an issue you’re simply born with. Or to put it another way, you’re either destined to develop sensitivity during your lifetime or you’re not. In reality, it’s possible for any individual of any age to develop sensitive teeth at any time and for no specific reason. Out of the blue, you could simply find yourself waking up one day with sensitive teeth, having never been bothered by the issue before.
Of course, there are certain factors that can heighten the risk of sensitivity. Poor oral hygiene habits are a common cause of sensitivity, along with the excessive consumption of sugary and acidic food or drinks. Nevertheless, most cases of sensitivity occur for no specific reason whatsoever and are no more prevalent in men or women.
2. It’s Always Inevitable
As touched upon above, a surprising proportion of tooth sensitivity cases are entirely avoidable. While poor oral hygiene habits don’t necessarily guarantee sensitivity, a clean and healthy mouth represents the best possible defence. In some cases, there’s really nothing that can be done to prevent a case of sensitivity manifesting. In others, simply keeping your mouth in the best possible condition could protect your teeth from sensitivity for a lifetime.
Only your dentist can investigate and identify the cause of any given case of sensitivity. But if you’ve been allowing your oral health and hygiene standards to slip for some time, this could be the reason. In any case, it’s worth consulting with your dentist to discuss your sensitive teeth and the available options for treatment.
3. Sensitive Products Don’t Really Work
In years and decades gone by, products designed for sensitive teeth weren’t particularly effective. Even the best sensitive toothpaste on the market combined with an electric toothbrush for sensitiveteethmight not have made much of a difference. These days however, it’s an entirely different story.
Many of the sensitive products and devices on the market today have been clinically proven as effective, quickly getting to work on the pain and discomfort of sensitive teeth. In fact, a high-quality sensitive toothpaste combined with an effective sensitive mouthwashcan have a near immediate impact on the severity of the problem. There are even pastes that can be rubbed directly onto sensitive teeth by hand for instant relief.
4. Sensitive Teeth Are Unhealthy Teeth
Sensitivity can be and often is a sign of poor oral health and hygiene. However, there are millions of cases of sensitivity that have nothing to do with more general oral health. Some teeth simply become sensitive over time for any given reason, as opposed to being attributed to poor oral hygiene habits.
If you suffer from sensitive teeth therefore, it’s entirely possible that it has nothing to do with your approach to oral hygiene. Nevertheless, sensitivity can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health issue. Hence, it’s in your best interests to consult with your dentist and ensure the issue is investigated.
5. Brushing More Can Combat Sensitivity
You’d be forgiven for thinking that brushing your teeth more regularly would be a good way of combating sensitivity. In reality, brushing more than twice a day could actually exacerbate the issue. Sensitivity is caused by tiny holes in the surface of the teeth that lead straight to the nerve. The more frequently and aggressively you brush, the more problematic these microscopic holes become.
Instead therefore, it’s better to stick with the usual twice daily brushing, using a dentist-recommended toothbrush and toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Or any other specialist products your dentist recommends personally.
6. Hot and Cold Foods Can Intensify the Problem
Last but not least, the pain and discomfort experienced when consuming anything excessively hot or cold can be excruciating. As such, you’d naturally reach the conclusion that hot and cold foods stand to make your teeth even more sensitive than they already are. But this isn’t necessarily the case, as the hot and cold foods you eat may have no specific impact on the health or integrity of your teeth.
People who suffer from sensitive teeth often avoid hot and cold foods to minimise discomfort. For others, hot and cold foods are avoided due to fear of harming their already sensitive teeth. Nevertheless, the temperature of the foods and drinks you consume won’t normally have any impact either way on the health or sensitivity of your teeth. It may be incredibly uncomfortable and painful at the time, but won’t typically inflict any lasting damage.