Sensitive teeth is an annoying problem. The sharp pain that you experience on taking hot, cold, sweet or sour foods or drinks, prevents you from enjoying your favourite food. Sometimes, even tooth brushing can be painful if you have sensitive teeth. Then, these simple activities puts you in constant fear of pain. This fear can make you avoid eating or drinking certain foods.
What causes tooth sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is a common cause of tooth pain. It is a sharp or shooting pain in one or more teeth to a stimulus. Tooth sensitivity occurs in the tooth layer called dentin. Dentin has structures called “dentinal tubules”. These tubules conduct the pain impulses to the nerves in the tooth pulp. Exposure of the dentin to the outside stimulus causes the sensitivity. Some of the reasons why you could have an exposed dentin are
- Overzealous brushing
- Abrasion, attrition or erosion of teeth
- Untreated tooth decay
- Gum recession ( Advanced gum disease )
- Root caries (decay in the root of the tooth)
- Cracked tooth
- Old fillings which are worn out
- Deep pits and grooves on the tooth
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Temporary tooth sensitivity after a tooth cleaning by your dental hygienist.
How can I prevent tooth sensitivity?
You can follow these steps to prevent tooth sensitivity
- Use a soft bristled toothbrush. This prevents gum loss. Also change the brush once the bristles fray.
- Brush two times a day with a fluoridated tooth paste. Desensitizing pastes may be helpful if you have some sensitivity. Avoid whitening toothpastes.
- Cleaning between the teeth with a floss everyday helps reduce sensitivity. Flossing prevents gum loss.
- A fluoride containing mouthwash helps in strengthening the enamel. A strong enamel is more resistant to wear.
- Proper brushing methods like using a circular motion as opposed to a hard scrubbing action helps reduce tooth wear.
- Avoid between meals snacking.
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks.
- Tooth bleaching or tooth whitening has to be done with caution and to a minimum.
- Visit your dentist regularly.
What will my dentist do to reduce my sensitivity?
If your sensitivity persists, see your dentist immediately. Your dentist will examine you and help you identify the cause of sensitivity. According, he will suggest a treatment plan for you.
- For deep pits and grooves on your teeth, your dentist will use a tooth sealant, which helps to seal off the dentin. These sealants can be even tooth bonding materials.
- Fluoride varnishes and gels are applied in mild cases of sensitivity. When applied regularly, these fluoride varnishes will strengthen your tooth enamel.
- Newer Laser technology has been developed to reduce sensitivity of dentin. The treatment repeated at every few weeks can settle the sensitivity with time.
- If a reducing gum line is the cause of sensitivity, your dental hygienist will do scaling. Subsequent, surgical procedures will be planned according to your specific needs.
- If you have a decayed or a cracked tooth, get it filled immediately. An untreated carious tooth may be the cause of persistent sensitivity. If the decay has infected the tooth pulp, then a RCT will be done by your endodontist.
- Tooth sensitivity because of erosion will be treated in tandem with the other medical specialities.
- If you are getting a tooth whitening done, then you have to start using a desensitising toothpaste 2 weeks before the procedure This will help reduce the sensitivity during and after the procedure.
- If you have bruxism or night grinding, your dentist will fabricate a night guard. This will prevent the wear of teeth.