‘Sensitive Teeth’ are teeth that are painful when exposed to extremes of temperatures.

Sensitivity can be triggered by hot, cold, sweet or acidic food and drinks.  The pain experienced is often sudden sharp pain.

Underneath the protective enamel coating of teeth is a highly porous layer called dentine.  If the tooth is not covered by enamel, thousands of tiny channels leading to the nerves are exposed.  Once dentine becomes exposed, the nerve in the centre of the tooth becomes more susceptible to stimuli and responds with a short sharp pain.

The enamel is lost leaving dentine exposed for a variety of reasons

  • Acid erosion
  • Excessive wear
  • Gum recession
  • Incorrect tooth brushing
  • Tooth decay
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Gastric Reflux

Eating citrus fruit every morning, excessive consumption of orange juice, soft drinks or sports drinks can cause erosion of the enamel on teeth which contributes to sensitive teeth.

Salvia acts as a buffer – consistently washing away acids and replenishing minerals in teeth. Salvia takes time to work and by limiting the number of times you drink or eat highly acidic foods throughout the day the better for your teeth as your salvia has time to remineralise your tooth structure.

CAUSES OF SENSITIVITY –

BRUSHING TOO HARD

Over a period of time, brushing too hard or using a hard bristled toothbrush may wear away enamel.  This can make drinking a cold or hot drink or eating something sweet very uncomfortable or painful

RECESSION OF THE GUMS

Movement of gums away from the crown of the tooth due to periodontal disease will expose the root surface making the exposed area very sensitive and painful.

EROSION

Acids can erode enamel off teeth.  Teeth that appear to be extremely worn down have been affected by erosion.  The acids that erode teeth enamel usually come from foods and drink and gastric reflux.

GRINDING TEETH

Grinding or clenching your teeth may wear down the enamel and expose underlying dentine.  Grinding is stress related and unfortunately, some people grind their teeth unconsciously while asleep.

PREVENTION

  • Consider what you eat – Reduce the frequency of eating foods high in acids. Acidity in the diet is often associated with healthy foods such as citrus fruits or salad dressings made with vinegar.
  • Consider what you drink – Acidic drinks include soft drinks, wine, cordials, fruit juices, sport drinks.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene
  • Use a desensitising toothpaste such as Oral B Sensitive
  • Apply tooth mousse if advised by your dentist to the affected areas
  • Use fluoridated dental products daily to help reduce sensitivity
  • Drink lots of water throughout the day especially after having highly acidic food and drinks
  • Avoid excessive or hard tooth brushing
  • Use a small soft toothbrush (electric powered brushes are best)
  • Increase fluoride exposure with the use of high concentrate fluoride paste or mouthwash
  • Chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow
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