IfLots of people suffer from sensitive teeth at some stage during their lives. It can make eating and drinking very hot or very cold foods uncomfortable and sensitive teeth can also be exacerbated by drinking extremely sweet foods and drinks. Symptoms can range from just feeling a slight twinge, to experiencing sharp pains that can go on for quite some time.
The reason for the sensitivity is due to the underlying layer of dentin being exposed, as this is normally covered by protective tooth enamel. Exposed dentin contains many little tubules that allow hot and cold foods to penetrate the inner part of the tooth that contains all the nerves.
There are several reasons as to why the dentin can become exposed, including the following:
- Teeth grinding or clenching can cause minute cracks in the teeth that open up every time you bite down or chew. These cracks will allow hot and cold foods to penetrate the tooth, and in addition will allow bacteria to enter into the tooth. This increases the chances of the tooth becoming infected or decayed, exposing even more of the dentin.
- Gum disease can make the gums very red and tender, and if allowed to progress will cause them to recede or pull back from the teeth. This allows the root surfaces of the teeth to be exposed. Tooth roots are normally covered in a layer of cementum that isn’t as tough as tooth enamel and which is more easily worn away. Once the cementum has been worn away the dentin is exposed, increasing tooth sensitivity.
- Some teeth whitening products can exacerbate tooth sensitivity. This can happen with treatments carried out in your dental surgery, as well as treatments carried out at home. Provided the teeth and gums are generally healthy this symptom should subside within a few days, but the exact degree of sensitivity can be difficult to predict.
- Having sensitive teeth might simply be down to your age, as those between 25 and 30 are more likely to suffer from this condition.
- Some dental treatments can increase sensitivity for a while afterwards, so if you have recently had a filling or some other type of dental restoration then you may find your teeth are a little more sensitive until they settle down again.
- If you eat a diet that is high in acidic foods and drinks then your tooth enamel may become eroded, exposing the dentin so you are more likely to have sensitive teeth.
Getting Treatment for Sensitive Teeth
The first thing to do is to book an appointment with your dentist for a full checkup just see if there is any underlying reason as to why your teeth might be sensitive. If your mouth is generally in good condition then your dentist may recommend various products designed to desensitise teeth.
There are quite a few toothpastes on the market that are specifically for sensitive teeth, and these work by blocking up those little tubules so cold foods cannot penetrate the tooth so easily. They are quite effective but you’ll probably need to use them for several weeks before reaping the full benefits. It’s also possible to buy mouthwash for sensitive teeth, and using fluoride mouthwash can help increase the strength of your tooth enamel, decreasing sensitivity.
Make sure you’re not over brushing your teeth as it is possible to wear away the tooth enamel, and it might even be worthwhile switching to a soft toothbrush. Making sure you don’t crunch ice, or use your teeth to open packets and bottles will also help lessen the chances of them developing tiny cracks. A diet that contains plenty of dairy products will help ensure your teeth receive plenty of calcium to remain strong and healthy.