Why do I have sensitive teeth?
If you’ve ever experienced a sudden sharp pain on your tooth after a cold drink, you might have sensitive teeth. Other people find that their sensitive teeth can be triggered by hot drinks, sweets or even touching the area with their toothbrush.
The most common causes are:
- gum recession which exposes part of your tooth root
- worn enamel which exposes the middle layer of your tooth.
Teeth can be worn over time from hard toothbrushing, acidic food and drink, stomach acid (such as gastric reflux) or tooth grinding.
Other causes include tooth decay, leaking fillings, tooth fracture, recent tooth whitening or recent changes to your bite.
How do I treat sensitive teeth?
The best way to find out the best treatment in your situation is to ask your dentist to check your teeth to work out the cause. Common treatments for less severe forms of sensitive teeth include use of desensitising toothpaste, tooth mousse® or high strength fluoride. Where the cause is due to exposed tooth roots, gum grafts or white fillings may be able to cover the sensitive area.
If the problem is more serious involving cracks, existing fillings, tooth decay, or bite issues, the problem may require larger fillings, crowns or root canal therapy.
How do I prevent further sensitivity?
Once you’ve treated the cause, you may have to adjust the way you clean your teeth to prevent further sensitivity. This may include switching to a soft bristled brush, using a gentle stroke as opposed to a scrubbing motion, or using less abrasive toothpaste.
To avoid tooth wear from acidic food and drink, it is best to avoid brushing your teeth for 30 minutes after consumption. Additionally, drinking through a straw may reduce contact with your teeth and rinsing with plain water afterwards will reduce the effect of the acidic liquid. For reducing acidic effects from stomach acid, it is best to seek the advice of your medical practitioner.
Tooth wear from grinding while sleeping can be addressed with a night mouth guard or splint.
Finally, regular check-ups with your dentist will monitor your condition to prevent future sensitive teeth.