What is tooth sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is a common name for dentin hypersensitivity or root sensitivity. If hot, cold, breathing in cold air, sweet or very acidic foods and drinks make your teeth or a tooth sensitive or painful then you have sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity can come and go over time.
Is tooth sensitivity common?
Tooth sensitivity is very common, and in fact, it has been estimated that approximately half the population experiences tooth sensitivity at some point in their life.
Why does tooth sensitivity happen?
Tooth sensitivity is usually caused by the dentin on the root areas of the tooth that are exposed due to receded gums or periodontal disease. Receded gums are very common and up to four-fifths of people have gum recession by the time they are 65.
When the root of a tooth becomes exposed it does not have a protective layer of enamel like the crowns of your teeth do. Instead, the roots have a very soft covering called cementum, which once lost leaves the dentin of the root exposed. Brushing to vigorously or using a very abrasive toothpaste can also cause abrasion of the tooth’s enamel surface and expose dentin. A very acidic diet – for example, a diet with a lot of citrus food, pickles or soft drink — can cause tooth erosion and dissolve the tooth surface, exposing the dentin. Bulimia and GERD can also result in dental erosion and sensitivity due to acid in the mouth.
It is important to tell your dentist if you have any sensitive teeth so that he or she can examine your mouth, see if the problem is tooth sensitivity (dentin hypersensitivity) and help you choose the best treatment. When teeth are sensitive it can be painful to brush them and if you brush poorly because of pain then there is more risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Can I prevent tooth sensitivity?
You can reduce your chances of getting tooth sensitivity by keeping your mouth as healthy as possible with good oral hygiene to help prevent receding gums and periodontal disease. Brushing and flossing properly as recommended by your dentist and using a low abrasion toothpaste can help reduce the chance that you will have tooth sensitivity. A diet that is not acidic also helps prevent tooth sensitivity. Ignoring your sensitive teeth can lead to other oral health problems, especially if the pain causes you to brush poorly making you vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.
What can I do if I have tooth sensitivity?
You should ask your dentist about the best way to treat your sensitivity as they can help you and see what the cause is and what the best treatment is. It is also important to tell your dentist in case the cause is not dentin (root) hypersensitivity and the tooth is sensitive due to a more serious problem.
Are you experiencing any tooth sensitivity? If you are concerned please feel free to phone us on (07) 3397 0610