Sensitive teeth cause patients to experience discomfort when consuming hot, cold, or sweet food and drinks.
Many people will find they feel nothing more than a slight twinge in their tooth, but others will experience a sharp shooting pain. This can last for a number of hours and could require treatment from a dentist.
In most cases, this condition arises when receding gum tissue or tooth wear exposes the underlying dentine. When dentine is exposed to hot, cold, or sweet substances, tooth sensitivity occurs.
Although sensitive teeth can be a problem for people of varying ages, it is more common among those between 20 and 40 years old.
Tooth sensitivity can be diagnosed by a dentist during a regular check-up. During this assessment, the dentist will check for exposed roots using a metal probe and gentle air stimuli.
Treatment will largely depend on the cause and extent of the issue. There are a number of courses of action that can be taken to prevent the problem from worsening.
Sensitivity can often be easily prevented with just a few simple steps at home:
Good oral hygiene – Individuals who brush with an electric toothbrush and floss their teeth every day, while ensuring they clean all areas of their teeth and mouth evenly, are usually at a reduced risk of developing gum recession. Also seeing a hygienist regularly helps with maintaining good oral hygiene.
Changing diet – Cutting down on highly acidic food and drinks such as citrus fruits and fruit juices reduces the risk of tooth wear.
Change toothbrush – A soft-bristled manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush are far less likely to cause toothwear. Also, changing the brush head once every three months can improve overall oral hygiene.
Using a desensitizing toothpaste – Using a desensitizing toothpaste such as Sensodyne for sensitive teeth for several weeks can reduce tooth sensitivity.
Use a mouth guard – If sensitivity has developed due to teeth grinding (Bruxism) a mouthguard can help to protect the teeth from further damage.