If you occasionally receive a pang of pain in your mouth after drinking or eating something hot or cold, you do not suffer alone. A new survey of dentists across the U.S. has found that roughly one out of every eight people suffer from sensitive teeth.
Cases of tooth sensitivity were most commonly reported in young adults, women, and individuals suffer from receding gums or who used at home whitening products. Patients suffering from sensitive teeth stated that the condition severely impacted their daily lives, and caused them to avoid eating certain foods. Food and drink items most likely to cause tooth sensitivity include those that are hot, cold, sweet, sour, or highly acidic.
The results of this latest study appear in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
A Sensitive Subject
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel that covers the exterior of a tooth, or the tissue referred to as the cementum which sits between the gum line and tooth, wears down, exposing the tiny tubules that connect nerves found in the interior of the tooth to outside triggers. Individuals who suffer from sensitive teeth may not always experience discomfort due to this condition, which can flare up for a few weeks before going unnoticed for a few more.
As part of the current study, researchers surveyed 37 general dental practices located in Utah, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. A total of 787 dental patients were surveyed as part of study.
To determine the extent of tooth sensitivity, dentists asked their patients if they had recently experienced discomfort, sensitivity, or pain in the gums or teeth. Dentists then performed an examination on each patient in order to determine whether a different issue, such as swollen gums, chipped teeth, or a cavity, potentially caused their pain.
Roughly 12 percent of patients suffered from pain that was not related to another issue, and therefore were diagnosed with tooth sensitivity. For dentists, understanding the prevalence of an issue like tooth sensitivity provides them a better idea about how often to look for the problem in their practice.
Previous research has varied widely when reporting the number of patients who suffer from tooth sensitivity, with numbers ranging anywhere from one percent to 52 percent of patients. Part of the explanation of this wide variation comes from the methods used by earlier surveys to screen patients for tooth sensitivity. While some of surveys directly asked participants about sensitive teeth, other asked general questions about whether a patient had ever experienced problems drinking cold water.
Fortunately for patients, once Dr. McLeod correctly diagnoses tooth sensitivity, a number of treatment options exist that can correct the problem.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
As with most oral health problems, tooth sensitivity results from as failure to practice quality oral hygiene. Failing to brush and floss daily allows harmful bacteria in the mouth damage tooth enamel and contribute to the development of gum disease. Both conditions can expose the roots of a your teeth, and directly lead to tooth sensitivity. If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, talk with Dr. McLeod about treatment options, and how to improve your oral care.