Summertime is almost upon us, and with it come the backyard parties, poolside picnics, and ice-cold drinks around the campfire-all well and good, unless you suffer from tooth sensitivity. If you do, the very thought of drinking or eating anything cold is likely unbearable.

If you find yourself avoiding your favorite foods and beverages because of sensitivity, you might be wondering what’s causing it in the first place. The fact is that there are many possible culprits: wear from grinding (or bruxism), cracks or chips in the surface of the teeth, over-use of bleaching agents, receding gum lines, thinning enamel, and even gum disease.

One of the most common reasons for sensitivity is thinning tooth enamel. This happens when the protective enamel layer on the tooth becomes worn away. Enamel provides a barrier between sensitive nerve endings and the outside world, so when it wears down, the nerves become much more sensitive to temperature changes. Over-consumption of acidic drinks is often responsible for enamel thinning. Highly acidic beverages include juice, coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, carbonated water, and even lemon water. When consumed only occasionally, and combined with good oral hygiene, these drinks aren’t a problem. However, if you’re sipping on them throughout the day on most days, they can erode enamel in a hurry. In addition, many of these drinks contain a tremendous amount of sugar, which coats teeth and provides the perfect conditions for cavity-causing bacteria to develop.

Over-zealous brushing, and using tooth-whitening products too often or incorrectly, can also be to blame. If you’re brushing too hard, or with the wrong toothbrush, it can certainly wear enamel down. Over-the-counter bleaching products can be safe when used properly, and not too often. However, if you leave the product on too long, or are using it too frequently, the chemicals in them can negatively impact the integrity of enamel. If you’re uncertain about home-whitening, consult with your dentist for their recommendations or to discuss professional whitening options. Professional whitening may be more expensive, but it’s safer and more effective.

Unfortunately, enamel does not grow back and can’t be replaced, so it’s crucial to take care of the enamel you have. If you suspect that thinning enamel may be causing tooth sensitivity, or if you’re experiencing sensitivity in general, it’s best to consult with your dentist right away. They will be able to detect the underlying cause and provide options for treatment.

To learn more, visit Dr. Keith A. Kye at https://kyedentistry.com. Dr. Kye and his team are dedicated to helping patients in Huntersville, North Carolina with their dental needs.