Tooth sensitivity is when you feel a transitory pain as your teeth come into contact with certain objects. Typically, tooth sensitivity is stimulated by cold, hot or sweets. For instance, eating an ice cream or chewing candies may trigger your tooth sensitivity. Having sensitive teeth is not fun! Tooth sensitivity can cause you to avoid eating certain food items.
The Causes of sensitive teeth include:
1) Poor oral hygiene – This can lead to plaque and tartar build-up, with resultant dental problems.
2) Gum recession – This can occur naturally over time, whereby the gums shrink back to expose the root surfaces.
3) Gum disease – The gums may not attach properly to the roots (receding gums), exposing the root dentine which is not protected by enamel.
4) Over-brushing – If one brushes too forcefully, with a side-to side technique or with too hard a brush, the enamel may be thinned. More abrasive toothpastes, such as those for whitening, may also lead to problems. May also lead to ‘sensitive’ gums, ie the gums may feel tender. The area around the gum-line is most often affected.
5) Dental decay– This is a common cause of making teeth sensitive to cold and heat.Image of tooth decay
Tooth decay like this pictured is a common cause of dental sensitivity
6) Cracked tooth/ filling – If a tooth or filling breaks, the nerve may be unprotected and sudden sensitivity may result. Tooth pain on biting may indicate a crack.
7) Dental erosion – this condition is caused by an acidic diet. The enamel is thinned making the teeth over-reactive to cold and heat.
8) Grinding – similar to erosion, regular teeth grinding/bruxism can wear away the enamel, but by physical means. This may also cause ‘aching’ teeth, due to constant pressure on them.
9) Teeth whitening – sensitivity is one of the common side effects of whitening. This usually clears up soon after the whitening has ended.
10) Dental treatment – sensitivity is common after a range of treatments, including fillings, crown placement and professional cleaning. The post-operative pain is usually short-lived.
Some people may also suffer with this problem, with no obvious underlying cause.
1) Bring on the desensitizing toothpaste: Unfortunately, widespread tooth sensitivity due to enamel abrasion or gum-line recession can’t be treated with dental fillings. Instead, try brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste, which you can buy over the counter.
2) Try a fluoride rinse. Fluoride rinses, available without a prescription at your local pharmacy or in the dental section of grocery stores, can help decrease sensitivity, especially for people plagued with decay problems. Use it once a day.
3) Keep your teeth clean. Plaque, the white gummy substance that forms on teeth, produces an acid that irritates teeth, especially if your choppers are naturally sensitive.
4) Use a soft toothbrush. Often, people actually cause tooth sensitivity by brushing with too much force and/or brushing with a hard-bristled brush, which can damage the protective tooth enamel. When the gum-line recedes (often as a natural part of the aging process), exposed dentin becomes even more vulnerable to toothbrush abrasion.
5) Say no to bad habits: Smoking, chewing tobacco and other harmful habits can really prove dangerous to your teeth. Stop before it increases.