Sensitive teeth can range from a mild temporary shooting pain to severe discomfort that can last for several hours, and can be caused by several factors. It is very important to seek advice from a dental professional so the source of the problem can be identified and treated as soon as possible.
Many people suffer from sensitive teeth and it can start at any time. It most commonly occurs when the dentine, which is underneath the enamel of the tooth, is exposed. There are various reasons for tooth sensitivity:
- Brushing too hard, and from side to side, can cause the enamel to be worn away.
- Dental erosion caused by attacks of acid from certain foods and drinks.
- Naturally receding gums, exposing the roots of the teeth, as root surfaces do not have an enamel layer to protect them.
- A build up of plaque or tartar can cause gums to recede (‘gum disease’) and even destroy the bone support of the teeth. Pockets can form in the gums around the tooth, making these areas difficult to keep clean and the problem worse.
- Grinding or clenching teeth together can cause the enamel of the teeth to be worn away.
- A crack in a tooth or a filling.
- Tooth whitening.
If you suffer from any of the above, you are more likely to feel sensitivity when drinking or eating something that is cold or hot, or from cold air catching your teeth. You should contact us as soon as possible to arrange an examination and talk about your symptoms.
We will need to look at your teeth to find out what is causing the sensitivity and to find the best way of treating it. Sensitivity can take some time to settle, and you may need several appointments.
You can help manage and/or prevent sensitive teeth by brushing your teeth at twice a day, most importantly once at night, with fluoride toothpaste. Try avoiding your teeth from side to side. However, avoid brushing your teeth straight after eating as some foods and drinks can soften the enamel of your teeth.
If you grind your teeth, talk to use about this. We may be able to advise and create a mouth guard made specifically for you for you to wear at night.
More info on preventative dentistry.