Fact or Fiction: Sensitive Teeth

Estimated Completion Time
1 min
Fact or Fiction: Sensitive Teeth
Image: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

About This Quiz

Take this quiz to learn everything you want to know about preventing and treating sensitive teeth -- so you can smile BIG.
Sensitive teeth occur mostly in adults over age 50.
Fact
Fiction
Sensitivity isn't caused by aging; it is found in adults age 25 to 30 more than in any other age group.

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People with sensitive teeth should avoid gum, including sugarless ones, which contain agitating artificial sweeteners.
Fact
Fiction
Sugarless gum helps teeth by increasing saliva production; saliva contains teeth-strengthening minerals.

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Mouthwash can worsen sensitivity.
Fact
Over-the-counter mouthwashes often contain acid, which erodes tooth enamel. Ask your dentist about non-acidic or prescription mouthwashes.
Fiction

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Sensitivity can be treated but rarely cured.
Fact
Fiction
Sensitivity clears up in weeks to months, with proper care. Identifying and treating the cause can restore your teeth to full strength.

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Old fillings can worsen tooth sensitivity.
Fact
Fillings weaken over time. They can crack, fall out or wear away. Ask your dentist about restoring old fillings in sensitive teeth.
Fiction

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Citrus fruit like lemons and acidic drinks like soda erode enamel, creating sensitivity.
Fact
Use straws and brush after eating to keep acidic foods and drinks from sitting on your enamel for long periods.
Fiction

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Enamel is the weakest material in your body.
Fact
Fiction
The strongest material in your body, tooth enamel is meant to last with proper care. Brush twice daily for two to three minutes and floss.

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Dentin, the material beneath enamel, contains small holes that connect directly to your tooth nerve.
Fact
When enamel erodes, these holes in dentin let cold, hot, and sweet sensations leak directly onto your nerve, causing discomfort.
Fiction

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Teeth grinders are at lower risk for sensitive teeth than non-grinders.
Fact
Fiction
Grinding is a major cause of enamel erosion. Your dentist can recommend a mouth guard to prevent grinding.

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You can cancel out the effect of acidic food, like an orange, by eating basic foods like cheese right after.
Fact
Basic chemicals neutralize acidic ones. Try drinking milk right after soda, for instance, if you can't brush right away.
Fiction

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The harder you brush your teeth, the more sensitive they might become.
Fact
Hard brushing weakens enamel. Use soft-bristled or pressure-sensitive, electric brushes. Brush gently for several minutes, rather than vigorously for a few seconds.
Fiction

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Fluoride reverses sensitivity.
Fact
Rinse with fluoride daily to desensitize teeth. If they're super-sensitive, ask your dentist about coating your teeth in a stronger fluoride varnish.
Fiction

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Toothpastes labeled for sensitive teeth have extra ingredients to help your teeth.
Fact
Toothpastes with potassium nitrate or strontium chloride harden saliva's minerals into a protective shield over your teeth, similar to enamel.
Fiction

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Brushing more gently than you usually do can reverse sensitivity in a couple weeks.
Fact
Brushing vigorously forces gumlines to recede, exposing roots. Apply pressure gently to let gums heal.
Fiction

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The two key causes of sensitivity are receding gums and enamel erosion.
Fact
Receded gumlines expose root nerves directly to food. Eroded enamel exposes dentin, a pocketed material which seeps food to nerves.
Fiction

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If you go too long without treating sensitivity, your dentist might not be able to help you.
Fact
Fiction
Even the worst cases of sensitivity are treatable by dental procedure. Bonding agents can seal badly receded gums, and high-powered varnishes and rubs can shield dentin.

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You should replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
Fact
Old, fraying bristles can damage enamel fast. Replace your brush every three to four months and look out for fraying.
Fiction

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Whitening kits can cause or worsen sensitivity.
Fact
Whitening chemicals such as bleach increase tooth sensitivity. Consult your dentist about the safest whitening options.
Fiction

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Sensitivity after dental procedures is uncommon and indicates poor dentistry.
Fact
Fiction
Getting crowns, cleanings, or restorational or root work sometimes leaves your teeth sensitive weeks afterward. Your dentist should indicate how long you can expect the sensitivity to last.

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Hot and cold foods irritate sensitive teeth.
Fact
Exposed nerves interpret hot and cold temperature as pain or discomfort. Eat and drink lukewarm meals until sensitivity clears up to avoid constant nerve irritation.
Fiction

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