Tooth sensitivity is something we’re frequently asked about by our patients. Painful twinges can be felt when teeth are exposed to air or when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic drinks or foods. There are several causes for this condition (called dentine sensitivity) and one or more of them may apply to you.
What is tooth sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is felt when the inner layers of the tooth become exposed to the elements. Dentine, the tooth’s supporting structure, is connected to the delicate nerve that triggers pain when in contact with reactive substances.
There are a few things that cause this reaction to happen, including:
- Recession – a relatively common problem where the gumline recedes to expose the root surface of the tooth.
- Wear – gradual wearing down of the enamel or the area around the area of the tooth next to the gumline can lead to sensitivity.
- Decay – cavities allow things to penetrate the tooth and can bring about varying degrees of pain.
What should I do if I sensitive teeth?
If you have any sort of sensitivity, you should consult your dentist for advice. They will be able to determine what the causes of your tooth sensitivity may be. It is quite normal to experience some sensitivity from time to time but it’s vital to establish the reasons so you can prevent things from getting worse. Acidity in the diet is a common cause, whilst bleaching (used to whiten teeth) and teeth grinding are other possible contributory factors.
How can I avoid tooth sensitivity?
Twice daily brushing with a specialist toothpaste such as Sensodyne will help alleviate mild sensitivity. Be careful that you don’t brush too hard or for too long – this can wear away the enamel.
Consider your diet; foods and drinks containing acid can erode the enamel on your teeth and exacerbate the problem. The more acidic foods/drinks you have, the more the teeth will wear away and the more sensitivity you are likely to experience.