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Are your teeth sensitive?

23 February 2011

The most common cause of tooth sensitivity is decay. When you get a short, sharp electric shock type of pain in your teeth it usually because there is a hole in one of your teeth. It is a sign that you should see your dentist. This is because decay it is not treatable with sensitive toothpastes used to treat sensitive teeth or pastes such as tooth mousse which can strengthen enamel. Over time the area of sensitivity usually becomes more frequent until some sort of pain management is required. When it gets to this stage it can be too late because the decay may have extended further into the tooth allowing bacteria to grow inside the inner layers of the tooth.

Visiting the dentist early means that the problem can be treated when it is small and less likely to cause damage to the nerve of the tooth which lies within. When the nerve of the tooth of the tooth has to be removed this is know as root canal therapy. Getting to the decay before a tooth needs root canal therapy is much cheaper with better prognosis.

Sensitivity to a dental professional is known as dentinal hypersensitivity and is usually caused by toothbrush abrasion, erosion or attrition. Toothbrush abrasion is wearing away of the teeth caused by brushing excessively with stiffer bristles in a side to side motion. The correct action is a small, circular motion along the gumline. Powered/electric toothbrushes can do a better job but it is even more important that the technique is not damaging to the teeth.

Erosion is caused by acid wear. It is due the fizzy drinks, sports drinks, wine, vinegars and juices that we drink. In moderation it does not cause a problem but when drinks are sipped over long periods of time, the acid has a chance to lower the pH in the mouth and demineralise the hard enamel layer on the outside of a tooth. These can appear as scooped out areas or divots on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Acidic drinks are best ingested quickly or with meals. Then rinse the mouth with water to help neutralise the acids or chew sugar-free gum.

Attrition is when tooth surfaces rub against each other and cause wear. Most often this is from grinding or clenching. Night grinding or nocturnal bruxism is involuntary and cause cause enormous damage to all teeth including front teeth.
When there is a combination of these factors, the result can be very dramatic and very difficult to manage. The earlier this sort of damage is rectified the better the outcome and the less work is required.

All this means is that you should let us know early when teeth are sensitive and let us decide if it is something that needs professional attention or requires management at home. Your teeth will thank you for it 😉