Do you wince or cringe sometimes when tasting certain foods? It may be a sign that you have extremely sensitive teeth.
Teeth become sensitive when a nerve is exposed – either from cracks, worn enamel, or receding gums – and can aggravate preexisting dental problems including gum disease, tooth decay, fractured teeth, and gum recession. If you’re suffering from teeth sensitivity, you’re not alone; in fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), about 40 million Americans currently report experiencing pain in their teeth when eating or drinking hot, cold, acidic, sticky, or sugary foods.
The good news is, you can help treat it! Practicing good care of your teeth and scheduling regular appointments will often significantly reduce tooth sensitivity. But, in the meantime, here’s a list of certain foods and beverages you should avoid as you get back on track with care and cleanings.
Worst Foods for Sensitive Teeth
Ice cream is a classic American sweet treat and many people’s favorite, especially during the sweltering summer months. But for those with hypersensitivity in their teeth, the extreme temperatures found in foods such as ice cream can be one of the worst options.
Since people with sensitive lack necessary protective enamel, the coldness in ice cream can really aggravate nerves and cause discomfort. In addition, the high amounts of added sugars are unable to be broken down by bacteria in the teeth and can result in added damage and decay.
For many people, coffee is a necessary part of the daily morning routine. Unfortunately, that delicious cup of joe at breakfast (and throughout the rest of the day) is another case of extreme temperatures affecting hypersensitivity.
Hot coffee in particular is a harmful case because of the temperature, in addition to its acidity, and tendency to be sweetened with added sugars or creamers, which can make the pain even worse. Instead, add some milk to your coffee in order to help lower the temperature and acidity.
Frequently underestimated from a dental health perspective, foods and beverages with high levels of acidity are especially harmful for teeth sensitivity. This includes citrus fruits (such as pineapple, grapefruit, lemons, and limes), pickles, tomatoes and tomato sauce, fruit juice, lemonade and limeade, soda/soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and in some cases certain dairy and meat products.
Not only do they easily erode/wear away at tooth enamel and trigger further pain, but they can also potentially aggravate and result in gastric/acid reflux. For acidic beverages, drinking through a straw may be the best option for reducing damage.
Pastries, candies, baked goods, and other sweet treats are all significant culprits not only for causing cavities, but for teeth sensitivity. They all contain high levels in sugar content that can grate at enamel erosion and result in tooth decay. Hard candies such as lollipops, suckers, and peppermints can cause teeth to chip or break, while sticky candies such as gummies, caramel, and licorice not only cause additional nerve pain but can damage dental work such as fillings and braces. To protect your teeth when eating sugary foods, eat sparingly and brush and rinse consistently afterwards.
Hot & Cold Foods
Of course, extremely hot and cold foods aren’t good for anyone, much less those with sensitive teeth. Wait to consume foods and drinks with high temperatures (such as soup, coffee, or tea) until they cool down to prevent burning your mouth, tongue, or esophagus. For cooler foods and drinks (such as iced beverages or frozen treats), consume them through a straw, request drinks without ice, or otherwise opt for less extreme versions.
The Final Word
It’s perfectly alright to still consume and enjoy your favorite foods even if you suffer from extremely sensitive teeth; just practice caution, know which foods and beverages are best for your teeth, and in the meantime continue practicing regular dental care.