Teeth can be sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, very sugary or acidic foods and drinks and vigorous toothbrushing. This kind of sensitivity is often called “dentin hypersensitivity”. Your dentist or hygienist can recommend a treatment or products that can help overcome the problem.
What is dentin hypersensitivity?
This term refers to the painful sensation that results from exposed dentin in your mouth.
Dentin is the tissue that makes up the core of each tooth. Above the gumline, dentin is covered by a protective coating of enamel. When enamel is worn away or decayed, dentin eventually becomes exposed and receptive to sensations which cause painful nerve responses. Dentin exposure and pain can also occur when roots are exposed, as the result of gum recession.
What are the main causes of sensitive teeth?
- Over-zealous brushing with a hard toothbrush and/or an abrasive toothpaste.
- Periodontitis (or gum disease) can contribute because it may expose the roots of the teeth.
- Your diet will also play a role – frequent consumption of acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits and carbonated (including diet) drinks, can chemically dissolve enamel over time, resulting in exposed dentin
- Abnormal wear on tooth surfaces, which often result from stress – like chronic clenching or grinding of teeth, nail biting and chewing on hard objects, can wear away enamel to expose the dentin
How do I avoid sensitive teeth?
Maintenance of healthy gums is the best way to protect tooth dentin from exposure. The seal made between healthy gums, teeth and underlying bone provides protection by keeping highly sensitive root surfaces covered.
Proper brushing and flossing are the basis for a good oral care routine.
However, overly vigorous brushing, with a hard-bristled toothbrush and/or an abrasive toothpaste may wear tooth enamel and can cause gum recession.
What products are available to alleviate the symptoms of sensitive teeth?
A desensitizing toothpaste should be used with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Sensitive toothpastes reduce the pain of sensitive teeth normally after only a few days of use, and continued protection is provided by regular use.
What is available for more severe sensitivity?
Your dentist may recommend in-office treatments or dispense special home care products for you to use.
Provided as an educational service by Oral B Laboratories.