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Caring For Sensitive Teeth

Do you often find yourself avoiding certain foods or drinks due to sensitive teeth? You’re not alone! Thousands of Australians suffer from teeth sensitivity every year and in turn are often left feeling uncomfortable and even frustrated. To help you get to the root of the problem we uncover some of the causes of teeth sensitivity and provide some tips on how you can reduce it.

What is tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity, or dentin hypersensitivity as it is also referred too, is a sudden, sharp, shooting pain into the nerve endings of your tooth/teeth. This feeling is generally prompted by hot, cold, sweet or sour food and drinks, and cold air.

But, what causes sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth occur as a result of the tooth’s dentin layer losing the protective covering of enamel, exposing the nerve endings or pulp. Once the enamel has receded or been worn away, hot, cold, sweet or sour food/drinks can travel down the thousands of tiny tubules (tubes) in the dentin layer to the exposed nerve endings causing a sudden, sharp pain. Ouch!

Tooth Anatomy
Interesting fact: Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body

Common causes of sensitivity 

There are a number of reasons as to why teeth sensitivity may occur; so, we’ve put together a list of some of the more common causes to help you get a better understanding of what might be triggering that unwanted pain.
  • Incorrect tooth brushing technique: scrubbing your teeth back and forth or using a hard toothbrush can wear down your enamel, causing the dentin to become exposed. It may also cause your gums to recede.
  • Gum recession: certain dental conditions like periodontal disease can cause the gums to recede, exposing the root surface to become exposed.
  • Gingival or periodontal disease: inflamed and sore gum tissue may cause irritation and sensitivity due to the loss of supporting ligaments. The root surface also becomes exposed.
  • Damaged teeth: decayed, broke or chipped teeth are a channel for bacteria to enter the pulp, causing inflammation.
  • Worn teeth: clenching and grinding your teeth may wear down the enamel and expose underlying dentin.
  • Harsh dental products: tooth whitening products or toothpaste with baking soda or peroxide can cause sensitivity.
  • Acidic mouthwashes: some mouthwashes contain acidity which can exacerbate tooth sensitivity if you have exposed dentin, and can cause further damage to this layer of the tooth.
  • Plaque: a build of plaque on the root surface can contribute to tooth sensitivity.
  • Food and drinks high in acid: wine, energy drinks, coffee, soft drinks and citrus fruits can cause enamel erosion.
Tooth sensitivity can also be triggered by dental procedures; however, this is usually temporary and commonly subsides in 4-6 weeks. If it persists after this time, we recommend you get in contact with your dental healthcare professional.

Tips for reducing tooth sensitivity

  • Oral hygiene: ensure you thoroughly brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily, cleaning all parts of your teeth and mouth.
  • Use a soft toothbrush: limit tooth abrasion and gum irritation by using a soft toothbrush to gently and carefully brush around the gum line.
  • Desensitizing toothpaste: swap your general toothpaste for a desensitizing one. This can also be applied to your teeth before bed and left on overnight.
  • Health, balanced diet: limit the frequent consumption of highly acidic foods and drinks; these can gradually erode tooth enamel and promote dentin exposure.
  • Fluoride toothpaste/mouth wash: speak to your dental healthcare professional about the right product for you, but the use of a fluoride toothpaste and mouth wash can assist with decreasing sensitivity. Make sure your mouth wash isn’t acidic!
  • Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth: stress can contribute to you clenching and grinding your teeth; speak to your dentist about a nightguard to help protect your teeth.

Following these simple tips can assist in reducing your tooth sensitivity, although if you find yourself still experiencing any symptoms talk to your dental healthcare professional. They will be able to work with you to find a suitable solution or may even suggest applying a varnish or sealer on the exposed surface of your teeth.

Suffering from sensitive teeth and would like to book an appointment? Find your nearest Maven Dental Group practice and enjoy the convenience of booking online.