If hot, cold, sour or acidic foods and drinks, breathing in cold air, or brushing can make your teeth sensitive, then you may have tooth sensitivity (can be called dentine hypersensitivity). In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel protects the crowns of the teeth, the part above the gum line. Under the gum line, a layer of cementum protects the root. Underneath both the enamel and cementum is sensitive dentin. Tooth sensitivity is caused by the gradual loss of the enamel and cementum, exposing the soft and sensitive dentine underneath. Tooth sensitivity is very common dental problem; it can range from a twinge to a full blown tooth ache.
Some of common dental conditions that can cause sensitive teeth include:
- Toothbrush Abrasion – brushing vigorously or with hard toothbrush can eventually wear down tooth enamel.
- These can also cause receding gum, causing further exposure of dentine.
- Dental Erosion – Acidic foods or drinks can wear down tooth enamel, exposing dentine underneath. Some medical conditions such as bulimia or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD) can also cause dental erosion.
- Tooth Grinding – Clenching or grinding can cause the enamel to be worn away, making teeth more sensitive.
- Receding Gum – Receding Gum, due to gum disease or natural gum recession, will expose the root surfaces which can lead to sensitivity of exposed root.
- A cracked tooth of filling – A crack that reach dentin layer can cause tooth sensitivity to temperature and biting.
- Unsafe teeth whitening or bleaching
What are treatments and preventions for tooth sensitivity?
- Maintain good oral hygiene, including brushing twice a day, flossing once a day to keep teeth and gums healthy.
- Use soft-bristled toothbrush and don’t brush too hard, use small circular movements and avoid brushing side to side.
- Reduce consumption of acidic foods or drinks that can wear away tooth structure, and drink plenty of water.
- Use desensitizing toothpaste – Desensitizing toothpaste block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires the use of toothpaste for several weeks before the sensitivity is reduced.
- In office fluoride gel or at home fluoride rinse can help to strengthen tooth structures.
- Avoid clenching your teeth during the day. If you grind your teeth at night, discuss this with your dentist about a custom fitted mouth guard to wear at night.
- In some cases, fillings are needed to protect exposed dentine to reduce sensitivity and to protect nerve tissues.
See your dentist regularly for professional dental cleaning, dental care recommendations and advice on relieving your sensitive teeth.
If you have problems with sensitive teeth, please discuss it with the dentist so we can offer help.