Nothing says summer quite like eating an ice cream cone on a warm summer evening. President Ronald Reagan deemed the month of July as National Ice Cream Month back in 1984. Ice cream remains a huge part of American culture and is also an economic staple of the US dairy industry. Around 9% of all the milk produced by US dairy farmers is used to make ice cream. Although most of us may “scream for ice cream” during the hot and humid days of July, those with sensitive teeth may scream for a different reason.
People with sensitive teeth may experience a shooting nerve pain any time their teeth come into contact with something cold, like ice cream. Although the cause of teeth sensitivity can vary on a case by case basis, one of the most common causes of sensitivity is exposed dentin. Beneath the hard outer covering of our teeth (called enamel) is a layer of dentin which contains microscopic nerve fibers. When the dentin becomes exposed due to dental decay, toothbrush abrasion, or gum recession, sensitivity to temperature can occur.
Some common reasons for exposed dentin include: excessive/rough tooth brushing, eating acidic foods, grinding teeth, or using many teeth whitening products. Mark S. Wolff, DDS, PhD, a professor and chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at New York University College of Dentistry says, “Harsh strokes wear away at the gum tissue as well as the tooth’s enamel layer, leaving each dentin tubule vulnerable to whatever it comes in contact with — hot, cold, soft, or hard.” Teeth sensitivity can be treated by a dentist and sometimes, the cure is as simple as switching to a “sensitive” toothpaste or incorporating a fluoride rinse into your daily dental routine.
If teeth sensitivity is keeping you from participating in July’s National Ice Cream Month celebrations, make sure to make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible!
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