Caring for sensitive teeth
Do you suffer with sensitive teeth?
Having sensitive teeth can be one of the more irritating dental problems that people face – it can mean anything from getting a mild twinge to having severe discomfort that can continue for several hours. Often, it can be heightened by eating or drinking something really cold or really hot.
Some might not think that it’s enough of a problem to go and see the dentist, so we go on avoiding that well deserved ice cream on a hot sunny day at a festival, or that cup of coffee to wake us up on a Monday morning. However, tooth sensitivity can also be an early warning sign of more serious dental problems.
Why are teeth sometimes sensitive?
The part of the tooth we can see has a layer of enamel that protects the softer dentine underneath. Dentine is the material that has channels leading to the nerves in the root of the tooth so if this is exposed where enamel has eroded away, a tooth can become sensitive. This usually happens where the tooth and the gum meet and the enamel layer is much thinner.
What can cause sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity can be a sign of gum disease, bruxism or even a broken tooth, so it’s best to pop in for an exam with your dentist if you’re experiencing sensitivity to make sure there are no other underlying problems. Any activity that could have impacted the enamel layer could be a factor:
- Brushing too hard (‘toothbrush abrasion’), and brushing from side to side, can cause enamel to be worn away – particularly where the teeth meet the gums. The freshly exposed dentine may then become sensitive.
- Dental erosion: this is loss of tooth enamel caused by attacks of acid from acidic food and drinks. If enamel is worn away, the dentine underneath is exposed which may lead to sensitivity.
- Gums may naturally recede (shrink back), and the roots of the teeth will become exposed and can be more sensitive. Root surfaces do not have an enamel layer to protect them.
- Gum disease: a build-up of plaque or tartar can cause the gum to recede down the tooth and even destroy the bony support of the tooth. Pockets can form in the gums around the tooth, making the area difficult to keep clean and the problem worse.
- Bruxism (tooth grinding): this is a habit which involves clenching and grinding the teeth together. This can cause the enamel of the teeth to be worn away, making the teeth sensitive.
- A cracked tooth or filling: a cracked tooth is one that has become broken. A crack can run from the biting surface of a tooth down towards the root. Extreme temperatures, especially cold, may cause discomfort.
Speak to your dentist
At Centre for Dentistry Archer Road, the practice is open 6 days a week, with appointments available early mornings, late nights and even Saturdays to work around your busy lifestyle. Their Dentist, Chet, is great with nervous patients and understands the importance of regular dental exams, especially if you’re experiencing sensitivity to help you get back to normal and make sure your mouth is as healthy as possible.
What can you do at home to prevent sensitivity?
There are also steps you can take yourself to reduce sensitivity at home after you’ve been to the dentist:
- Keep up with your oral hygiene – brush for 2 minutes twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste. There are toothpastes you can buy too, which specifically help reduce sensitivity. You can also visit your hygienist for more information on how best to keep your teeth and gums clean.
- Try and make healthy swaps to food and drink that won’t erode the enamel on your teeth as much – switch from fruit juice to water or try snacking on carrot sticks and hummus instead of sweets!
- Be aware of what triggers your sensitivity – you could always keep a food or drink diary and note what caused you pain. Then try and limit what does make your teeth sensitive…
Centre for Dentistry Sheffield Archer Road is one of two CFD practices in Sheffield. The practice is open 6 days a week 8am-8pm (Mon-Thurs) and 8am-6pm (Fri-Sat) and boasts free, convenient parking at Sainsbury’s. All of the staff are excellent with nervous patients and the practice is currently welcoming new patients. If you have any questions about sensitive teeth, oral health in general or would like to book an appointment, please contact the practice on 0114 408 1002.