What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

Do your teeth get super sensitive during the winter? If hot, cold, sweet or very acidic foods and drinks, or breathing in cold air, makes your teeth or a tooth sensitive or painful then you have sensitive teeth.

Some of the more common culprits are:

  • Tooth decay (cavities)

  • Fractured or cracked teeth

  • Tooth grinding or clenching

  • Worn fillings or tooth enamel

  • Gums that have pulled away from the tooth roots as a result of gum disease or vigorous brushing

How can I prevent tooth sensitivity?

Good oral hygiene is your best protection against most oral health problems, including tooth sensitivity.

Poor daily dental hygiene allows bacteria to collect around and between the teeth. If you don't remove bacteria (plaque), they can harden into calculus (tartar), which can build up and cause your gums to recede around the teeth. Gum recession exposes the roots of your teeth, which, in turn, leaves your teeth more susceptible to sensitivity.

Other situations that may increase your risk of gum recession include tobacco use, oral piercings (which can irritate the gums), use of some medications or even changes in female hormone levels during puberty, pregnancy or menopause.

Brushing your teeth harshly, using too much pressure or using a hard-bristled toothbrush also may cause your gums to recede, exposing the tooth's root.

The good news is that sensitive teeth can be treated. Depending on what is causing the sensitivity, your dentist may suggest one of a variety of treatments:

  1. Desensitising toothpaste: This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.

  2. Fluoride gel: An in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.

  3. A crown, inlay or bonding: These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.

  4. Surgical gum graft: If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.

  5. Root canal: If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.

Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Ask your Metro dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity. Book your appointment here.

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