Do you pass on ice cream or hot coffee because these treats sometimes cause your teeth to ache? This tooth sensitivity is often the result of worn enamel or gum recession that leaves the interior layer of the tooth exposed. Enamel is the hard outer coating of the tooth that protects and insulates it. If the enamel is lost due to wear, chipping, or improper brushing, the porous underlying layer called dentin will transmit these temperature sensations to the very center of the tooth, where the nerve resides. It can also result if your gums have receded, leaving the root surface that would normally be covered by healthy gum tissue exposed. If the dentist has ruled out decay or a cracked tooth as the cause for this exposure, there are a few ways we can treat the condition to reduce this hypersensitivity. The first thing we want to do is make sure you are brushing with a proper technique using a soft bristled tooth brush. Enamel wear is often caused by over- brushing or using a toothbrush with overly firm bristles. We also need to evaluate whether your diet includes highly acidic foods or beverages. Sodas and fruit juices contain a great deal of acid which causes tooth enamel erosion. To treat the areas where enamel has already been lost, we can employ agents designed to block the open ends of the exposed dentin tubules (pores) and prevent the stimuli from ever reaching the inside of the tooth. We usually recommend that you start with desensitizing toothpaste, which contains compounds that will accumulate in the tubule openings with regular use over a few weeks. If that is not adequate, we may prescribe in office fluoride treatments which will strengthen the remaining enamel or treatment with other dentin blocking agents like oxalates or adhesive sealants. If this sounds like an issue you’ve been experiencing, call us today to discuss how we can help.