Missing out on ice-cream? Then it is time to look at ways to combat sensitive teeth.
SHORT OR LONG PAIN?
Teeth can be sensitive when hot, cold, sweet or touch travels to the nerve inside the tooth giving it a painful feeling. It is usually a short sharp sensation.
If the pain persists it is an indication of a real problem, and you should see your dentist promptly for an examination.
WHY ARE THEY SENSITIVE?
In the teeth there are 3 layers. The outer white enamel layer that we see on our teeth is usually not sensitive. Below this is the dentine layer. This layer is where the sensitivity begins. Within the dentine layer are tiny tubules that run to the nerve (pulp) which are fluid filled. Sensitivity occurs with movement of the fluid in the tubules which then stimulates the nerve (the third layer) telling you the tooth is sore.
Generally the buffering effect of our saliva keeps the tubules sealed and the tooth comfortable. The sensitivity occurs when the dentine is exposed.
CAUSES OF SENSITIVITY
Exposed dentine may occur due to gum recession or brushing too hard and wearing away the enamel or the gums. Use a soft toothbrush only. Check you are not brushing too hard by looking at your tooth brush and ensuring that the bristles are not squashed out flat. Bristles should remain upright.
Gum recession can also be due to gum disease. Get your dentist to check if you have gum disease.
A crack in the tooth may also exposure the dentine tubules causing pain on biting. Decay also causes sensitivity. These need to be checked out by your dentist.
Acidic things can make teeth sensitive. Examples of these are wine, citrus, fizzy drinks, energy drinks and juices. A change in diet can increase sensitivity.
Plaque on teeth also cause sensitivity as the bacteria is releasing acid directly onto your teeth so it is essential to keep teeth clean.
Teeth tend to be a bit more sensitive in teenagers as the nerves are really large. As we age they become smaller reducing sensitivity. This is normal sensitivity.
To manage sensitivity always use a soft tooth brush and brush gently twice a day and floss.
Avoid acidic things.
Avoid whitening toothpastes as they are abrasive and remove the protective layer.
Products can help. Sensitive toothpastes can be used as a daily toothpaste or can be rubbed directly onto the sensitive area. Give them a couple of weeks to work. Dentists can supply other products if the toothpaste is not working such as Tooth Mousse.
If you are not getting any resolution after a couple of weeks, see the dentist. There may be decay and holes causing the pain.