Sensitive Teeth

Do hot or cold drinks, ice cream, sweet or sour foods, chewing fibrous foods or just brushing your teeth cause you pain? If so, then almost certainly you have sensitive teeth.

Sensitive teeth, or dental hypersensitivity as dentists call is, is common amongst the 25 to 45 age group. However, it can occur at any age with one in three people suffering from sensitive teeth. Sensitive teeth occur when dentine, the second layer of the tooth becomes exposed. This commonly occurs along the gum line and the root surface of the tooth.

How does dentine become exposed?

Dentine can become exposed due to the following reasons:

Gum recession resulting from:

Loss of tooth enamel due to:

How do I know if I have sensitive teeth?

A simple test to see if your teeth are sensitive is to run your finger gently around where the teeth meet the gum. A sensitive tooth may respond with a short, sharp pain.

Teeth can sometimes become sensitive after your dentist has "scaled" your teeth, or scraped off the layers of tartar (calculus). Tartar is hardened and calcified plaque which appears as a light brown deposit and usually forms where the teeth meet the gum. Often this occurs behind the lower front teeth which tend to accumulate the most tartar. Removing this layer is like taking off an undercoat, and the teeth may be sensitive to cold air. Thorough brushing to ensure plaque removal will help to improve this sensitivity.

Can I control the pain of sensitive teeth?

You can prevent pain from sensitive teeth by consulting your dentist on a correct brushing technique. They will show you the correct brush to use (a soft one) and how to use it properly. By brushing gently with desensitising toothpaste you should notice an improvement.

If tooth sensitivity is so severe that you cannot bring yourself to brush thoroughly, consult your dental professional who may apply a varnish or special solution to the tooth surface. This is usually an indication of a more serious problem.

Visit your dentist regularly, this can prevent minor problems from becoming major ones. Your dentist will be able to detect early signs of tooth decay and gum disease. If you have any problem areas with your brushing or flossing ask your dentist to assist you. These problems can be discussed and in some cases additional cleaning may be suggested.

If it important not to wait until you have pain before visiting your dentist.

Source: Colgate Oral Care Brochure - Sensitive Teeth

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