Tooth sensitivity is categorised by a sharp, immediate pain across a tooth or the teeth. The pain occurs as a result of the enamel being broken down, which leaves the layer underneath, otherwise known as the dentin, exposed.
The erosion of the enamel manifests as receding gums; the exposure of the dentin causes the dentin fluid to flow outwards from the centre of the tooth.
Any external stimulus placed into the mouth, with extreme levels of coldness, heat or spice, that disturbs this flow is intercepted by nerve cells as pain to the brain.
Irresistibly sweet and icy cold, these two properties make ice cream an aggressive aggravator of sensitive teeth. The absence of the enamel means nerves in the teeth are more sensitive to the cold temperatures of ice-cream, while the high sugar levels produced more enamel destroying acid.
Surprisingly, hot drinks such as tea or coffee can have the same affect on sensitive teeth. Coffee or tea at high temperatures can shock the teeth and generate pain.
Skip rush hour and allow time for your coffee to cool down; another great trick to reduce the temperature of your morning beverage is to add milk, which will not only bring the temperature down, yet will simultaneously reduce the overall acidity of your morning coffee.
On the acidity scale, teas at their pH level below a 4 are rated mild. Moreover, a 2017 study led by Cui Huang and published by American Chemical Society highlighted the compound in green tea, known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG defended the erosion of the enamel from acidity.
In the study, further tests carried on removed wisdom teeth demonstrated the compound blocked dentin tubules and prevented the formation of biofilm, thereby precluding the formation of cavities.
EGCG was equally effective in combatting the acid-producing bacteria in teeth, Streptococcus mutans.
High in the immune system boosting Vitamin C, citrus fruits such as: lemons, oranges and grapefruit are concurrently high in acidity. If you do experience tooth pain, after indulging in citrus fruits we recommend limiting your intake and switching to other fruits, for example apples, bananas and melons that are low in acid.
Regardless to ensure you are still receiving the required level of Vitamin C, our top tip is blending citrus fruits and using a straw to avoid any acid touching your teeth and inflicting any damage.
Yu, J., Yang, H., Li, K., Ren, H., Lei, J. and Huang, C. (2017). Development of Epigallocatechin-3-gallate-Encapsulated Nanohydroxyapatite/Mesoporous Silica for Therapeutic Management of Dentin Surface. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 9(31), pp.25796-25807.