Sensitive Teeth: A Comprehensive Guide
Some individuals cruise through life without ever experiencing a single problem with their teeth or gums; however, this is extremely rare. Most of us will develop at least one or more issues with our teeth that will require a visit to the dentist for appropriate treatment. This could be for a tooth that needs a filling, an extraction due to extreme toothache, the fitting of braces, and other procedures.
One condition common in Australia is teeth sensitivity, with studies revealing that 44% of Aussie households have someone currently suffering from sensitive teeth. Another statistic that’s also interesting is that women tend to be more prone to sensitive teeth, making up 61% of the demographic living with the condition.
We’ll take a closer look at the issue of sensitive teeth, what causes the problem, what helps sensitive teeth, sensitive teeth when pregnant, and how to treat sensitive teeth.
Whether you’re seeking a better understanding of the condition or effective solutions to treat sensitive teeth, this comprehensive guide is for you.
What is Teeth Sensitivity?
Sensitive teeth can turn everyday activities such as eating, drinking, and even breathing into painful or uncomfortable experiences. If you’ve ever winced from a twinge of pain in one or more of your teeth when sipping a hot beverage or eating or drinking something cold, you’ll be familiar with the discomfort associated with sensitive teeth.
Essentially, teeth sensitivity is a magnified response to certain stimuli, which include hot, cold, sweet, or acidic food and drinks. Even brushing and flossing sensitive teeth can be uncomfortable for some sufferers, or the simple act of opening your mouth and inhaling a deep breath could also be painful for those experiencing a severe case of teeth sensitivity.
If any of the above causes a short, sharp pain in your teeth, you have teeth sensitivity and need to discover what helps sensitive teeth and see your dentist to treat sensitive teeth.
For reference, let’s list the common signs of teeth sensitivity and the triggers:
- Pain when consuming hot food and drinks
- Stabs of pain from cold food and drinks
- Inhaling cold air
- Using an alcohol-based mouthwash
- Brushing and flossing
- Cold water mouth rinses
- Acidic food and beverages
- Sweet food and beverages
- Chewing food, particularly something hard
- Sensitive teeth when pregnant
For some people, the discomfort of teeth sensitivity is only mild. For others, the pain can be short, sharp, and quite severe. Teeth sensitivity and its severity can also vary over time with an individual, sometimes mild and other times quite painful. It’s also important to note that not every tooth is going to develop sensitivity. It may just be a single tooth with the problem or several teeth.
Causes of Teeth Sensitivity
One of the most common reasons for developing a sensitive tooth or teeth is when the protective layer of tooth enamel has been eroded, leaving only the softer dentin layer between your nerves and external stimuli. If the enamel on your teeth has been compromised and you’re living with pain and discomfort when eating and drinking, you’ll need to see a dentist to treat sensitive teeth.
There are other factors that can cause tooth sensitivity as well. For instance, if you have a cracked tooth, this can leave a fissure in the tooth that allows air, food particles, and liquid access to the tooth’s root and nerve.
Cavities, chipped teeth, old and worn fillings, and even gum disease can lead to a person developing sensitive teeth problems. Gum recession, periodontal gum disease, and aggressively brushing your teeth can also be causes and triggers of teeth sensitivity. For example, using a brush with particularly hard bristles can lead to teeth and gum sensitivity. The habit of grinding the teeth, consciously or unconsciously, can also exacerbate the condition.
Women can also develop sensitive teeth when pregnant. This is due to the changes in hormones during the pregnancy cycle. Pregnancy hormones can affect the way the body responds to bacteria, with increased acidity in the mouth. Vomiting and reflux during pregnancy can also increase the acidity in the mouth. This acid thins the enamel of your teeth, which further promotes the chance of tooth sensitivity. Due to the increased blood flow in your body, a temporary gum infection can present while pregnant. This can cause bleeding and inflamed gums, which can trigger sensitivity in both the gums and teeth. As a result, a woman may experience discomfort when having something hot or cold to eat or drink. In this instance, the symptoms often subside after giving birth.
Poor oral hygiene will sometimes result in developing tooth sensitivity, too, as gradually, a lack of oral care will result in the tooth enamel being compromised and the nerves of the teeth becoming exposed.
There are occasions where your teeth may become temporarily sensitive, such as recently having a tooth filled or undergoing a teeth whitening treatment. In these scenarios, the sensitivity will generally resolve within a few days.
Now that we understand more about teeth sensitivity and the common causes, what helps sensitive teeth, and how do you treat sensitive teeth?
See Your Dentist
The first step to treating sensitive teeth is to make an appointment to visit your dentist. While having a routine examination and teeth cleaning, your dentist will be able to note any potential issues with your teeth and gums that could be causing sensitivity. Loose fillings, cavities, recessed gums, damaged teeth, and more will be assessed during the visit. Dental instruments may also be used to touch the teeth and test for sensitivity. By the end of your visit, your dentist will be able to identify or rule out potential causes of sensitive teeth.
To reduce pain and restore the health and strength of the enamel of an affected tooth, your dentist might apply fluoride. Additionally, a prescription for fluoride to apply at home may also be a suggested course of action. Recently, calcium and phosphate have proved to be effective in remineralising tooth structure and reducing sensitivity. Your dentist will know which treatment is best for your sensitivity.
Bonding and Desensitising
A sensitive root can be desensitised to outside stimuli with the application of a bonding resin to protect it. Usually, the individual will receive a local anaesthetic prior to the procedure.
The loss of gum tissue in and around the root of a tooth can be a cause of tooth sensitivity. In this instance, surgical gum grafting is used to treat sensitive teeth. A small piece of tissue is taken from elsewhere in the mouth and attached to the affected site to reduce sensitivity.
This type of toothpaste contains special ingredients that create a protective layer over sensitive parts of the tooth when used regularly. In many cases, using a medicated desensitising toothpaste will reduce or even eradicate symptoms.
Book a Consultation with Admire Dentistry
If you’re suffering from sensitive teeth when pregnant or you’re looking for an effective way to treat sensitive teeth, book an appointment with Admire Dentistry. There’s no need to endure the discomfort of sensitive teeth and not be able to enjoy your favourite hot or cold food and drinks. We’ll examine your teeth and come up with just the right solution to resolve your teeth sensitivity issues. Get in touch today.