Do you experience toothache when eating ice cream? Or do you find yourself twitching when brushing? If these sound familiar, then you probably have tooth sensitivity.
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the soft dentin underneath the tooth enamel is exposed and consequently the tooth becomes overly sensitive. Other symptoms of tooth sensitivity include sharp and temporary pain or discomfort in the tooth, pain caused by cold or hot, sweet or acidic foods and drinks, as well as pain caused while brushing or flossing.
Causes of tooth sensitivity are:
- Toothbrush abrasion – if you are brushing too hard, tooth enamel can become thinner, and therefore the exposed dentin becomes sensitive.
- Dental erosion – acidic foods and drinks destroy enamel. Consequently, the dentin underneath is exposed, which may lead to tooth sensitivity.
- Receding gums – gum recession causes the roots to become exposed and thus more sensitive.
- Tooth grinding – it can cause the enamel of the teeth to be worn away, which makes the teeth sensitive.
- Excessive plaque and decay – due to inadequate tooth hygiene and excessive plaque, tooth enamel becomes worn away, which leads to toothache caused by tooth sensitivity.
- A cracked tooth or filling – if your tooth/filling is cracked or chipped, extremely cold or hot foods and beverages may cause tooth discomfort.
- Tooth bleaching – some patients suffer from toothache caused by tooth sensitivity after having their teeth bleached. It is advisable to consult your dentist before having a bleaching treatment. Alternative to bleaching at home is having your teeth professionally whitened – read more about Teeth Whitening.
- After a dental procedure – it is not unusual to have some sensitivity after treating a root canal, or after placing a dental crown. However, if your sensitivity last for a longer period of time, you should consult your dentist because it could be an infection.
- The excessive consumption of acidic foods and beverages (carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, pickled food, yogurt, wine).
However, tooth sensitivity is treatable. Some of the patients solve their problems by using toothpaste specially developed for sensitive teeth. On the other hand, if the toothache and discomfort continue, you should see your dentist for an evaluation. He will then examine your teeth and recommend the most suitable treatment. He may treat the affected teeth with special products that relieve sensitivity or with fluoride gels and fluids. If this still does not help, your dentist may cover exposed dentin by sealing or filling around the tooth. In very serious cases might recommend a root canal, which is actually the most effective tooth sensitivity treatment.
People often ask how to prevent sensitive teeth. First and foremost, brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Use a soft- bristled toothbrush. Never brush your teeth from side to side. Change your toothbrush every two to three months or sooner if it becomes worn. If you experience discomfort while brushing with cold water, try to use warm water instead. Floss daily. Secondly, limit foods and drinks that contain sugar, as well as fizzy and acidic drinks. Thirdly, if you grind your teeth, ask your dentist if a mouth guard at night may be an option for you. Furthermore, if you are thinking about having your teeth bleached, consult your dentist if sensitivity may be a side effect in your case. Needless to say, in order to minimize the risk of tooth sensitivity, visit your dentist regularly.
To prevent tooth sensitivity, remember the following tips:
- Don’t brush too aggressively.
- Limit acidic foods and drinks.
- Trust your teeth whitening treatment to an experienced dental professional.
- See your dentist regularly.
Do all of the above and always remember to treat your teeth with love and care.