Author: Dr Behnam Aminnejad. Posted: 18.09.23
Tooth sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity, is a common dental condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterised by a sharp pain or discomfort in the teeth when exposed to different stimuli such as hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages, as well as when brushing or flossing.
The sensitivity occurs when the dentin, the layer beneath the hard enamel that covers the tooth, becomes exposed. Dentin comprises microscopic tubules that connect to the nerve fibers of the tooth, enabling the transmission of sensations. When the dentin is exposed, these tubules allow external stimuli to reach the nerves, resulting in pain or sensitivity.
Several factors can contribute to tooth sensitivity. One of the most common causes is the erosion of tooth enamel, which can be caused by aggressive tooth brushing, acidic foods and drinks, or tooth grinding. Enamel erosion gradually wears away the protective layer, exposing the dentin. Gum recession, where the gums pull away from the tooth, can also expose the root surface and lead to sensitivity.
Other potential causes include dental cavities, cracked or chipped teeth, tooth decay, worn fillings, overly aggressive dental procedures, and certain dental treatments like teeth whitening. Additionally, certain medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and bulimia can contribute to tooth sensitivity.
The symptoms of tooth sensitivity can vary in severity, ranging from mild discomfort to intense pain. The pain is typically short-lived but can be triggered by everyday activities like eating, drinking, or even breathing through the mouth. The affected teeth may also feel more sensitive in cold environments or when breathing in cold air.
Treatment for tooth sensitivity depends on the underlying cause. If enamel erosion is the issue, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and practicing gentle brushing techniques can help prevent further damage to the enamel. Dentists may recommend using toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth, which contains ingredients like potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride to provide relief. Desensitising agents or varnishes may also be applied at the dental office to reduce sensitivity.
In some cases, dental procedures may be necessary to address the cause of tooth sensitivity. These can include dental bonding to repair chipped or cracked teeth, dental fillings to address cavities, or gum grafts to cover exposed root surfaces. Orthodontic treatment may be recommended to correct misaligned teeth, which can lead to sensitivity.
Preventing tooth sensitivity involves maintaining good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing, and using fluoride-based products. It is also important to limit the consumption of acidic foods and beverages, and to avoid habits such as tooth grinding or clenching. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential to detect any potential issues early on and prevent tooth sensitivity from developing or worsening.
Overall, tooth sensitivity can be a bothersome condition, impacting one's ability to enjoy certain foods and beverages comfortably. However, with proper oral care and professional dental treatment, it is possible to manage and alleviate tooth sensitivity, restoring comfort and overall dental health.
If you would like more advice or would like to make appointment, please telephone the practice during open times: 01248 370054