Tooth Sensitivity

Find UK Dentists »

Tooth sensitivity is a term used to describe any sensitivity which occurs in your tooth's root and dentin hypersensitivity. It is likely you have sensitive teeth if you react to varying temperatures and sweet or acidic foods and drinks. If you are experiencing any of these problems, then make an appointment with your dentist so that you can have a thorough oral examination. Luckily, tooth sensitivity is a very common problem and is highly treatable.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

In most cases, the cause of tooth sensitivity is exposure of the dentin, located on the roots of your teeth, due to receding gums or periodontal disease. As you grow older, your gums have a tendency to recede and most people over the age of 65 have experienced some form of gum recession. Normally, your tooth is protected by its enamel, however once the root is exposed it affords no protection. Your roots are surrounded by a material called cementum. The loss of this soft material leaves the dentin in your tooth's root exposed. This can cause quite severe pain as the nerves which are housed in the root become irritated, particularly when eating.

The most likely causes for this exposure are overzealous brushing or using an abrasive toothpaste. Both of these activities can break down the surface enamel, leading to dentin exposure. This is often made worse if the sufferer has a particularly sugary or acidic diet. Similarly, enamel erosion can also be caused by a number of medical conditions such as bulimia. This occurs when acid from vomit collects in the mouth and contributes to the erosion of your enamel.

It is important to visit your dentist at least twice a year so that any potential problems can be spotted and dealt with before they turn into a serious issue. Ignoring the problem won't help but many patients with sensitivity develop a marked decline in their oral health as sensitivity can often make brushing and flossing painful.

Preventing Tooth Sensitivity

To prevent the development of tooth sensitivity, it is usually recommended that you maintain a good oral hygiene regime. Most dentists agree that you should attempt to brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. Make sure you use short gentle strokes as brushing overzealously can often contribute to enamel erosion and the development of sensitivity. You should also floss between teeth to eradicate the bacteria living there and some people also find mouthwash useful at combating the bacteria which causes halitosis (bad breath). You should try to avoid any sugary snacks and drinks or acidic foods and maintain a healthy and balanced diet. If you are having any sensitivity issues, then schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

« Tooth Decay Bruxism »