What causes sensitive teeth?
There are several reasons why teeth become sensitive. It’s usually because of worn enamel, or exposed tooth roots – but it could also be caused by any one of the following:
- A cavity
- Gingival collapse, a consequence of periodontitis
- Tartar build-up
- A cracked or chipped tooth
- A recent filling
- Bleaching or other dental procedures
If you’re not sure why you have sensitive teeth, talk to your dentist. They’ll be able to identify the underlying causes, advise you and recommend treatment.
How to deal with sensitive teeth
Your dentist may suggest any of the following approaches:
- Use a sensitive toothpaste – specifically designed for overcoming discomfort caused by sensitive teeth. Active ingredients work to block the pain quickly and also help protect the teeth.
- Update your toothbrush – brushing can be painful if you have sensitive teeth, so get a soft-bristled toothbrush that’s gentle on the gums. Sensitive toothbrushes are soft on sensitive areas while removing plaque build-up at the same time.
- Using fluoride – your dentist may apply a fluoride gel, rinse or varnish to your sensitive teeth to build up some protection.
- Desensitising or bonding – if your sensitivity is caused by exposed root surfaces, your dentist may apply bonding resin to seal the area around the tooth.
- Surgical gum graft – if loss of gum tissue is the cause, your dentist may be able to take gum tissue from another area of your mouth and graft it to the affected area.
- Root canal treatment – for severe, prolonged discomfort, a root canal may be the most effective option.
How to prevent teeth sensitivity
Once you’ve overcome your teeth sensitivity, you’ll naturally want to make sure you don’t suffer from it again. Here are just a few ways you can do just that:
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and change your toothbrush every two to three months.
- Don’t overdo it. Avoid brushing too hard or too often and use a soft-bristled brush.
- Watch your diet. Cut down on sugary foods and acidic drinks. Avoid brushing your teeth for at least 30 minutes after you’ve consumed acidic food. If you brush too soon, while acids are still attacking your tooth enamel, you risk damaging it in its vulnerable state.
- Prevent tooth-grinding (bruxism). If you grind your teeth, ask your dentist about a mouth guard. Bruxism can fracture teeth and cause sensitivity.
Don’t let your sensitive teeth take the joy out of simple pleasures in life. Talk to your doctor, as there are ways to overcome the issue, and make sure you use a sensitive toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.