Sensitive Teeth: Causes, Symptoms & Relief

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There’s no denying tooth sensitivity is torturous! Have you fallen victim to the sudden, crippling pain that can arise when enjoying some of life’s simple pleasures? Perhaps you were sipping your morning coffee, biting into an ice cream or even quenching your thirst with some ice-cold water. Whether it’s hot, cold, sweet or acidic, sensitive teeth sufferers can all agree that an average mouthful can turn unpleasant very quickly.

It’s time to solve the mysteries surrounding sensitive teeth and get to the root of why this stinging sensation can appear so rapidly out of the blue. Let’s take a look at the facts and uncover what the best method of treatment is for sensitive teeth.

Lady with sensitive teeth

What is tooth sensitivity?

Dentin hypersensitivity is the painful sensation felt in the teeth after consuming hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods, or breathing in cold air. It is commonly referred to as tooth sensitivity, and it’s believed that over half the world’s population has fallen victim to sensitive teeth at least once.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Our teeth are protected by a layer of very strong enamel (in fact, it’s the hardest substance in the human body!). The roots of our teeth are protected by a much softer layer called cementum.
The sensitivity starts beneath these two layers in a part of the tooth called dentin. The dentin is made up of hollow canals called tubules, which have direct contact with nerve fibres. If the dentin tubules are exposed to hot, cold, sweet or acidic substances, the nerves and cells inside the tooth respond with radiating pain.
Sufferers commonly ask, ‘why do my teeth feel sensitive all of a sudden?’ The sudden onset of pain is caused by the nerve’s immediate reaction to the external stimulus. Tooth sensitivity can begin to occur when the enamel on our teeth wears away and becomes thinner, or our gums start to recede exposing the dentin.

Enamel and cementum can deteriorate and gums can become exposed from a number of causes:
– Aggressive brushing
– Poor oral hygiene
– Periodontal diseases
– A highly-acidic diet
– Tooth decay
– DIY teeth whitening
– Plaque build up

Temporary tooth sensitivity can occur after certain dental treatments; however, this usually subsides within a few days. Ongoing sensitivity is most likely the result of worn tooth enamel and exposed roots.

Symptoms of sensitive teeth

The discomfort from tooth sensitivity can be felt frequently, or it can occur every now and then. It is primarily triggered by:
– Hot, cold, sweet & acidic food or beverages
– Cold air
– Brushing teeth
– Mouthwashes

If any of the above cause you to feel discomfort or pain, there’s a good chance you are experiencing teeth sensitivity.

Sensitive teeth pain relief & management

The big question is, how on Earth do you stop sensitive teeth pain? While there is no instant fix, there are several measures you can take to avoid the onset of discomfort.
If you are regularly bothered by sensitive teeth symptoms, start by booking an appointment with one of our expert family dentists. Each case is unique, and we can best asses the cause and recommend the most effective form of pain management. It could be a simple fix, or a matter of dealing with a dental issue now, which could cause bigger problems in the future.
In the meantime, our dentists recommend using a desensitising toothpaste and a sensitive toothbrush. Try to avoid food and beverages that may trigger sensitivity, and use a straw to drink hot or cold liquids.

girl with ice cream and no tooth pain

Preventing sensitive teeth

Prevention is key and being attentive to your smile can go a long way in combating sensitive teeth! Ensure you follow a consistent dental hygiene regime that includes daily brushing and flossing. Following a diet low in acidic foods and drinks can prolong the presence of enamel on your teeth, which protects the dentin.
Brush cautiously around gums using slow, circular motion, and trade your toothbrush in for a soft-bristled toothbrush. This will ensure your enamel and cementum stay intact!
Taking care of your teeth can stop the onset of sensitivity, meaning you can continue to enjoy the food and drinks you love.

Book an appointment today

Tired of enduring sensitive teeth? Or is it time for a routine check-up? Our team of friendly dentists are more than happy to help. If you have experienced sensitive teeth for the first time, or the pain is constant, we recommend checking in with us. Get in touch today to book your next appointment.

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