Sensitive teeth: Causes and Treatments
What are sensitive teeth?
Teeth can become sensitive when the enamel that covers them begins to erode. As the enamel wears away, the underlying layer of dentin is exposed, which contains pores that run through to the tooth's nerve. It is this exposure that results in a person with sensitive teeth experiencing discomfort when consuming something hot or cold. The level of sensitivity can vary too, meaning you can experience anything from mild to severe discomfort.
How does sensitivity occur?
Your teeth can become sensitive in a number of ways, such as:
• Brushing too hard or over-brushing - this can wear down your tooth enamel.
• Eating too much acidic food or drink - this can cause dental erosion.
• Receding gums - this can occur naturally, eventually exposing the root of your tooth, which doesn't have an enamel layer. A tooth root might also be exposed as a result of a cracked tooth.
• Gum disease can negatively impact your tooth enamel.
• If you grind your teeth, this can also result in sensitivity due to the enamel being worn away.
How do I prevent it?
As well as keeping up to date with your dentist appointments, and making sure you maintain a good oral hygiene routine at home, the following steps can help you to prevent developing sensitive teeth:
• Brush your teeth in small, circular motions, not from side to side.
• Avoid sugary, fizzy or acidic food and drink.
• Replace your toothbrush as soon as it shows signs of wear.
Is there a treatment available?
Sensitive teeth can be troublesome, but there are treatment options available from your dentist. De-sensitising toothpastes can help, as well as other products to relieve symptoms such as fluoride gels, rinses and varnishes. These types of products are used over a period of time to build up the protection on your teeth.
For extreme cases of tooth sensitivity, your dentist may fill in your tooth to cover the exposed area. If you think you may have sensitive teeth, or simply would like to find out more about the services available, get in touch with your local practice.