Studies show that 1 in 8 people suffer from sensitive teeth. It can occur when eating, drinking or even just from inhaling cold air. Here at Churchfield Dental Centre, we regularly advise patients on why they are suffering from sensitive teeth and what can be done to prevent it. We’ve put together this post to help you.

Why do Sensitive Teeth Occur?

Teeth become sensitive when the dentine layer becomes exposed. The dentine can be extremely sensitive, which is why it is usually protected by a layer of enamel. When the enamel wears away, the dentine is exposed so becomes very painful when it comes into contact with hot or cold food and drink for example.

There are lots of reasons why teeth can develop sensitivity. For example:

  • Worn tooth enamel from a hard toothbrush or brushing aggressively
  • Tooth erosion due to highly acidic food/drink
  • Tooth decay
  • Worn fillings
  • Broken teeth
  • Gum recession
  • Sensitivity after dental treatment such as fillings, crowns or tooth whitening. This is common but temporary.

Worn Tooth Enamel

This is one of the most common causes of sensitive teeth. This happens when using a hard toothbrush and/or brushing too hard. Over time, the bristles wear away the tooth enamel, exposing the dentine inside the tooth.

How to prevent this?

Use a soft or medium toothbrush, don’t press on hard when brushing and use gentle circular motions instead of a scrubbing technique. Many people believe that brushing harder means cleaner teeth; this is not the case!

Tooth Erosion

This is caused by acidic foods and drinks. The acid in these things erode the enamel and wear away the tooth surface. In the same way that worn tooth enamel leads to sensitivity, this means the protection around the dentine is less effective and you experience pain due to sensitivity.

How to prevent this?

There are lots of ways to minimise erosion from the food and drinks we consume. It is better to drink neutral liquids such as plain water, milk, tea and coffee (with no sugar). When you do choose something other than this, try to have it with or directly after a meal. You can also use a straw (a biodegradable one or reusable one is better for the environment!), this reduces the contact the drink has on your teeth. We also advise that you drink it in a short space of time rather than sipping over a prolonged period.

Worn Fillings

Because fillings fill a cavity, they for a new protective layer around the dentine where the enamel would usually be. If the filling becomes worn, the same problem occurs; the dentine is exposed and your teeth become sensitive. Also, if the filling becomes loose for example, then substances can directly come into contact with the dentine, leading to sensitivity.

How to prevent this?
Maintain a good oral hygiene routine and as soon as you notice an issue, get in touch with your dentist. A loose filling can lead to numerous other problems, so it’s better to get it sorted straight away.

Broken Teeth

Just like a loose filling, a broken tooth can mean the dentine is exposed and substances or even cold air, come into contact with the sensitive and vulnerable area.

How to prevent this?

There isn’t much you can do to prevent a broken tooth because this often happens by accident. If you do have a broken tooth however, get in touch with your dentist straight away. Breaks and chips can also be uncomfortable and sharp, again, it is better to get it fixed as soon as possible.

How to Stop Sensitive Teeth

There are measures you can take to prevent sensitive teeth, but once you have them, what can you do?

Firstly, talk to your Dentist or Dental Hygienist. They can look more closely into what is causing the sensitivity and advise you on the steps you need to take.

Treatment for sensitive teeth depends on the cause, but it could include:

  • A filling
  • Advice on your oral hygiene routine
  • Recommending a toothpaste for sensitive teeth
  • Replacing a worn or lost filling
  • Fixing a broken tooth
  • Fluoride gel application

Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

If you are suffering with mild sensitivity, a toothpaste for sensitive teeth could be all you need. These toothpastes work by blocking the nerve endings in the exposed dentine, reducing the sensitivity. It’s important to use these toothpastes all the time as ongoing protection against sensitive teeth.

If you suffer from sensitive teeth and want to speak to an expert, then get in touch with Churchfield Dental Centre. We would love to see you and help you overcome tooth sensitivity!

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