Ouch! Do you have sensitive teeth?

If you find yourself flinching when consuming cold and hot drinks, while eating citrus or when taking a breath of cold air, you might be experiencing sensitive teeth.

Estimated to affect one person in nearly half of all Australian households, tooth sensitivity can be a sharp and sudden pain or feel as if your teeth are constantly “on edge”.

Here’s an insight into the most common causes of sensitive teeth and what you can do to alleviate the condition.

What causes sensitive teeth?

In short, tooth sensitivity occurs when the dentin is exposed and this may happen for a number of reasons. The Australian Dental Association notes the causes extend from overzealous cleaning through to gum disease and cavities.

Improper cleaning – Aggressive cleaning with a hard toothbrush has the potential to strip the all-important protective enamel from your teeth, and ultimately this can expose the dentin beneath.

Enamel erosion – Other than overly zealous brushing, there are a number of other conditions that can erode the enamel of your teeth. These generally involve your teeth being exposed to too much acid, so include a highly acidic diet, reflux, vomiting in pregnancy, and eating disorders like bulimia.

Gum disease – Gum disease can see the gumline recede to expose the root of the tooth and this can lead to sensitivity.

Chipped and broken teeth, or cavities – Chipped or broken teeth or a tooth with a cavity can also see the dentin exposed.

Dental work – Occasionally dental work like crowns, fillings and even a routine scale and clean can leave your teeth sensitive for the immediate period afterwards. The good news is, this sensitivity usually subsides, but if it doesn’t, get back in contact with your dentist.

Improper tooth whitening – Excessive DIY tooth whitening also has the potential to damage the enamel of your teeth, causing sensitivity. If you’re considering teeth whitening, consult a professional dentist. Professional whitening not only lasts longer, it’s safer for your teeth.

How to alleviate sensitive teeth

As tooth sensitivity is linked to a number of causes it’s important you understand why it’s occurring. Your dentist is the best person to ascertain the reason for your sensitive teeth. They can then treat problems like cavities, suggest actions you can take to mitigate the problem, or offer advice on specific treatments.

There are also a range of measures that can be taken to alleviate tooth sensitivity, some of which are simple actions you can undertake at home, while others involve the assistance of a dentist.

Low acid diet – A diet that’s low in acidic food and drinks can help reduce your risk of enamel erosion.

Good cleaning routine – A proper dental hygiene routine sees you gently but firmly brush your teeth and the gumline twice a day using a soft toothbrush. It also involves flossing once daily. Be sure to use the correct technique in order to minimise the risk of cavities and reduce the likelihood of damaging the enamel.

Regular dentist visits – Regular dentist visits help you identify potential issues before they become painful problems with your teeth. It’s recommended you visit a dentist at least once a year and more often if required.

Professional treatment options –  If your dentist determines your teeth sensitivity is caused by eroded enamel or an exposed root they may suggest the following:

  • Desensitising toothpaste – In some cases desensitising toothpaste can help block the pain associated with sensitive teeth.
  • Fluoride – Your dentist may apply fluoride to your teeth in a bid to strengthen the enamel.
  • Bonding – If the sensitivity is linked to an exposed root surface, in some cases this can be treated by applying a resin to the exposed area.
  • Gum graft – Exposed roots might also be treated by taking gum from another area in the mouth and grafting it over the exposed surface.
  • Root canal – If your pain is severe and other treatments fail to alleviate your tooth sensitivity, your dentist may recommend a root canal, which works to treat the dental pulp triggering the sensation of pain.

About Brite Dental

Brite Dental is a community-focused dental practice, committed to ensuring you and your family receive the highest quality of care in a warm and professional environment.

Offering a full range of dental services, ranging from children’s dentistry through to high-end cosmetic dentistry, we are conveniently located in central Panania.

You can learn more about our dental services here, or contact us to book your next appointment.