Do you know that almost half the population will experience tooth sensitivity at some stage?
It may be quite common but sensitive teeth can be extremely painful! Not only can they react to hot, cold, acidic or sweet food or drinks, but there are times when it’s even painful to breath.
So what causes tooth sensitivity?
The most common reason is when gum recession leads to exposure of the root. Root surfaces are porous and if exposed, will become sensitised.
Exposed root surfaces can be caused by overzealous tooth brushing with a medium or hard toothbrush, the use of abrasive toothpaste or tooth grinding.
Many other factors may lead to sensitivity such as tooth erosion, cavities, cracks and chips in teeth, worn and failing fillings and gum disease.
Treating tooth sensitivity starts with the correct diagnosis of the underlying problem by your dentist.
[strong>Treatment options for sensitive teeth include:
• Desensitising toothpastes or gels – these are easily obtained across the counter and work by blocking the pain pathways within the tooth.
• Desensitising varnish – similar to the toothpaste, however, these are professionally supplied. This treatment is stronger and the benefits last longer than toothpaste.
• Extra strong fluoride – topical applications of a strong fluoride to a localised area will help to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain. These may be used in conjunction with a customised tray, which is worn at night to givea prolonged application.
• Desensitising bond – if root surface sensitivity is acute, a resin bond may be applied to seal the exposed root surface.
• Gum surgery or gum grafting procedures – if gum recession is localised, surgically lifting or repositioning the gum around the sensitive tooth may help to reduce the pain.
• Root canal therapy – truly the last resort for sensitive teeth, however, occasionally the nerve in the centre of the tooth has become so inflamed that the other treatment options are not providing relief. Root canal therapy
involves the removal of the nerve from the tooth that is causing the sensitivity.
Prevention is key.
It’s best to avoid medium and hard toothbrushes, abrasive toothpaste and vigorous scrubbing of teeth.
If you are grinding or clenching your teeth at night it would be beneficial to wear a splint to help minimise wear and tear resulting in chips, fractures and even gum recession.
Correct oral hygiene is vital to minimise pain from tooth sensitivity.
If you are suffering from sensitive teeth please consult with your dentist for diagnosis and treatment.
B.D.S(Hons).(Syd). MDSc (Melb, Grad.Dip.Clin.Dent (Oral Implants), Grad.Dip.Clin.Dent (Conscious Sedation & Pain Control), FRACDS, FPFA, Senior Clinical Associate (Uni of Syd), Dental Surgeon.