What are sensitive teeth?

The part of the tooth we can see is enamel that protects the dentine underneath. If the dentine is exposed, a tooth can become sensitive. This happens in most times in the tooth area near gum where the enamel layer is much thinner. Sensitive teeth mean that you can get variety of symptoms, from a mild to severe discomfort, that can last even a couple of hours, specially during eating, drinking or breathing cold air. Sensitive teeth can also be an early warning of more serious dental problems. Tooth sensitivity can come and go over time, with some times being worse than others.

Who suffers from sensitive teeth?

The problem is quite common, it is estimated on 50 % of the population. It can start at any time, but most commonly at the age between 20 and 40. Sensitivity can also affect teenagers and people over 70 years old. It appears more often among women.

What are the 8 causes for sensitive teeth?

  1. Food and drink. External stimuli like hot, cold, sweet or acidic drinks, or foods like ice cream.
  2. Brushing. Applying too much pressure during brushing, using hard toothbrush, or brushing from side to side in horizontal direction can harm soft gums and cause gum recession (gums shrink back), which exposes tooth neck which is less resistant to external stimuli.
  3. Brushing teeth with cold water. You may need to use warm water instead. Don’t stop brushing your teeth because of sensitivity, if you do, this could make it worse.
  4. Dental erosion. This means loss of tooth enamel because of regularly consuption of acidic food and drinks. Denton underneath is exposed which may lead to sensitivity.
  5. Tooth bleaching. It can happen that some patients feel sensitivity for a short time during bleaching or afterwards for a few days.
  6. Build-up of dental plaque or tartar. They can cause the gum to recede and even destroy the bone. Pockets in the gums around the tooth are making the area difficult to clean and the problem worse.
  7. Tooth grinding. It means clenching and grinding of the teeth which causes the enamel to be worn away, making the teeth sensitive.
  8. A cracked tooth or filling. A crack can run from the biting surface towards the root of the tooth. Extreme temperatures, especially cold, may cause discomfort.

What is the purpose of toothpaste for sensitive teeth?

If your teeth are easily irritated by external stimuli, like hot or cold, you can ease your symptoms with toothpastes for sensitive teeth. There are many brands of toothpaste for sensitive teeth on the market. These toothpastes in most cases contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These chemical compounds reduce tooth sensitivity for almost 4 weeks by blocking dentinal tubules, which are special pathways in the teeth that are attached to nerve inside the tooth.

How to use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth?

You should use the toothpaste twice a day while brushing your teeth. Try to brush the sensitive tooth area for a bit longer than other areas of dental arch. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth can take from a few days to several weeks to take effect, so try to use it for at least 7 weeks in a row.

Is visiting a dentist necessary?

It is recommended to visit a dentist, if you tried treating your sensitive teeth for a few weeks and you have had no improvement. The dentist may treat the teeth with de-sensitising products to help relieve the symptoms. They contain fluoride in a form of gels, rinses or varnishes. They can be applied onto the sensitive teeth at appointments one or two weeks apart. Sensitivity needs some time to settle, which is the main reason, you will probably need several appointments. If the symptoms does not disappear through time, you may need a dental filling at the neck of the tooth to cover exposed dentine.

How to prevent sensitive teeth?

Brush your teeth with soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste twice a day or consider using toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Make circular movements or in other words, allways brush teeth from gums down, to prevent gum recession and tooth neck exposure. Try to avoid brushing your teeth in horizontal motion, which means from side to side. Visit your dentist regularly. If the bristles of a toothbrush are already worn, buy new toothbrush. Eat sugary meals and drink carbonated and acidic drinks less often. If you grind your teeth, you should have a night mouthguard made. If you are thinking about teeth whitening, discuss teeth sensitivity with your dentist before treatment.

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