What You Need To Know About Sensitive Teeth

If you find yourself wincing in pain after biting into your favorite ice cream or sipping a cup of hot coffee,you might be suffering from ‘dentin hypersensivity’, or sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is a common complaint and is mostly experienced on the consumption of hot/ cold food and beverages. Cold frosty weather is known to play a part too. Pain associated with sensitive teeth may range from a little twinge in the tooth or sharp shooting pain that can last for hours. Although there are many desensitizing toothpastes out there in the market that can protect against tooth sensitivity, it helps to understand the reason behind these tooth twinges and how you can avoid the pain altogether.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth

Our teeth are covered by a hard protective layer called the enamel. Enamel is the strongest substance in the human body; it is designed to withstand the constant pressure of chewing, biting, crunching and tearing.  It protects the weaker inner portions of a tooth (dentin).  Although very very strong, enamel is still vulnerable to erosion and fracture.

When the enamel protective layerwears away, the dentin is exposed. Dentin is composed of many tiny tubules and nerve endings that are very sensitive to temperatures and pressure. When dentin is exposed to the environment of the mouth, you will most likely experience pain and discomfort whenever you eat or drink something that is cold, hot, sticky or acidic.

If you have sensitive teeth, it is possible that some or all of your enamel has worn away, exposing the dentin.  There are a few reasons how this may have happened:

Brushing. Using a firm-bristled toothbrush, abrasive toothpastes and hard brushing side-to-side along the gum line can wear away the enamel. Consider using a soft-bristled toothbrush for gentler brushing and brush at a 45 degree angle. Also, we recommend using toothpastes that contain fluoride as fluoride is proven to strengthen enamel and helps resist erosion.

Gum Recession. Receded gums are more common as you age.  It can be caused by over zealous brushing, but also by periodontal disease.  As gums recede the dentin in the root of the tooth becomes exposed.

Diet. Excessive acid in your diet may also contribute to sensitive teeth. Too many carbonated drinks sports energy drinks can severely erode teeth.  Don’t brush immediately after imbibing these drinks as the acids weaken the outer surface of the tooth and brushing makes it easier to wear them away.  Instead swish your mouth with water, and wait for an hour or so before brushing, so that your saliva has some time to neutralize the acid.

Tooth Decay. Decay does not only expose the dentin, but work its way down to the nerves as well.  Often there is no pain with tooth decay until the nerves are affected, and by this time a small cavity may well be a big one.  Consult your dentist for appropriate treatment.

By keeping your mouth as healthy as possible, you can reduce your chance of getting sensitive teeth. If sensitivity persists or the pain becomes more intense, call us @ 6834 0877 for a thorough oral assessment.


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