Sensitive teeth can occur for a wide range of reasons, some as innocuous as extra sensitivity, to more concerning problems such as tooth decay or infection.
The tricky part is telling these causes apart!
Extra sensitive teeth
Some people simply have extra sensitive teeth! We call this hypersensitivity and although treatment is not typically required, the good news is this can usually be managed well at home with products such as a sensitive toothpaste.
Ever heard the saying “long in the tooth”? It should really be called “short in the gums”! It is true that your gums can recede with age however this can also occur in younger patients.
Gum disease, missing adjacent teeth, and repositioning of teeth after orthodontic treatment are all possible causes although overly hard brushing is one of the more common culprits. As the gum migrates further down the tooth, more of the root is exposed causing sensitivity.
It’s best to either prevent this recession or maintain our gums before the recession worsens.
Enamel is the hard protective layer on the outermost part of our teeth. This can be worn away over time due to acid erosion or hard tooth brushing habits, leaving the more sensitive dentine layer exposed.
Monitor acidic foods and drinks such as fizzy drinks, lemon water, some fruits, wine and vinegar, and try to avoid their contact with your teeth by drinking through a straw or rinsing with plain water.
Internal acids, such as those resulting from reflux, are also risk factors for enamel erosion and it is best to address the causes of these acids where possible.
Also remember to use a soft toothbrush and a gentle brushing technique to avoid over-scrubbing your pearly whites! Where enamel loss is more significant, a filling can be placed to cover the exposed tooth surface. This replaces your enamel and will help protect the tooth from further wear.
Chipped teeth causing sensitive teeth
Similarly to enamel wear, when a tooth fractures, the second dentine layer of the tooth can be exposed, leading to sensitivity. This is usually resolved once the broken portion is repaired and the tooth is covered and sealed again.
Tooth decay causing sensitivity
Tooth decay can cause a cavity within your tooth resulting in sensitivity. Initially this may be sensitive to cold only although sensitivity to hot food and drinks can mean the nerve is deteriorating further.
Often a simple filling is all that is required however, in more severe conditions, infection may mean further treatment is necessary.
Regardless of the cause of tooth sensitivity, the best practice for you and your mouth is to get checked out while the problem is still manageable.
We’re here to help with any questions you may have, to ensure you can keep smiling until you’re grey in the hair and not “long in the tooth”!
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