Tooth sensitivity is incredibly uncomfortable. It can affect a single tooth, or it may affect a number of teeth, and is a sharp, shooting pain that resonates right through the tooth and into the nerve endings in the mouth. It’s often triggered by hot or cold temperatures, for example drinking a hot drink like tea, and can also be set off by sweet or sour tastes.
The cause of sensitive teeth is essentially where the surface below the teeth (called ‘dentin’) has been exposed to the air by the gum pulling back. The dentin is a soft layer of the tooth composed of the inner parts and the roots. It contains thousands of tiny links to the ‘pulp,’ which is the nerve centre of the tooth, and it’s these links that mean that when hot, sweet, sour or cold substances hit the exposed dentin, the nerve in the tooth is activated, resulting in the physical pain. Dentin can be exposed by wear and tear – using a brush that is too hard, brushing too enthusiastically or grinding teeth – resulting in enamel being worn away and the dentin exposed. Acidic food and drink i.e. anything with a high acid content, can be responsible for wearing away enamel and untreated gum disease is another major contributor, as gums that are sore and inflamed recede and expose tooth roots.
If you have tooth decay near the gum line then this can also contribute to issues with sensitivity, and plaque build up on root surfaces is another major problem. Most of us find that it’s between the ages of 25 and 30 that tooth sensitivity is at its worst, but if you have damage to your teeth this can also bring problems. For example, bacteria can enter teeth that are chipped and cause inflammation by entering the tooth pulp. The products we use may also influence this condition, from tooth whitening products, to long term mouthwash use.
If you suffer from tooth sensitivity then there are some simple steps that you can take to help bring this pain under control. The first step is good oral hygiene -brushing and flossing regularly using proper techniques to ensure your entire mouth and teeth are clean. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help to reduce sensitivity and is particularly effective if you spread a thin layer of it over the worst areas before going to sleep (it should be fluoridated not tartar control). Fluoridated mouth rinse can also be helpful and a soft bristled toothbrush that you use carefully, brushing softly around the gum line can help stop you damaging gum tissue. If you’re regularly grinding your teeth then use a mouth guard at night and avoid acidic food and drink, such as tea, pickles and fruit. Finally, make sure you keep regular dentist appointments and if you’re still suffering with sensitive teeth despite trying all these suggestions then ask your dentist for help.
If you’re looking for help with sensitive teeth then why not visit Smile Pad. We have dentists in Bristol, Salisbury, Chertsey and London – contact us today to make an appointment.