Do your teeth twinge when you eat cold foods like ice cream or drink hot tea? Do you suffer short, sharp pain due to tooth sensitivity? Is your sensitivity a daily problem or perhaps just an occasional annoyance? Chances are you have “dentine hypersensitivity”, another name for sensitive teeth.
Dentine hypersensitivity can occur daily or it might just be an infrequent tooth twinge. This site can help you find answers to your common questions about sensitive teeth.
Still have questions? Concerned that your sensitivity may indicate a more serious condition? Be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as possible with a dentist.
Dr Soltani of Surbiton Dental Practice explains that tooth sensitivity is caused by the gradual exposure of the softer part of your tooth that lies under the tooth enamel, called “dentine”.
Dentine has tiny tubes (‘tubules’) that lead to the nerve and are filled with fluid. Eating or drinking foods and drinks that are hot, cold or sweet can cause a change in fluid movement. This fluid movement causes the nerve endings to react in response, triggering a short, sharp pain.
Brushing shortly after acid challenge can cause the enamel to be more easily worn away, as during this time the enamel is softened and more vulnerable. Brushing can also cause receding gums, causing further exposure of the dentine.
Gum disease (also known as gingivitis) causes inflamed and sore gum tissue. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis is when gum disease gets worse and damages the tissues and bone that support the teeth. One symptom of periodontitis is sensitive teeth, as the receding gums leave dentine exposed.
If you grind your teeth when you sleep or during the day, or if you clench your teeth, you may be wearing down enamel and exposing the underlying dentine layer of your tooth.
Receding gums can be caused by conditions such as gum disease, which can expose the tooth’s dentine and cause sensitivity. Brushing too vigorously can also cause receding gums.
Are your teeth sensitive to hot or cold food or drinks? A range of things can trigger the short, sharp pain of sensitive teeth.
Not everyone will have the same triggers, but the following are the most common:
Cold food or drinks – such as ice cream, chilled drinks and ice cubes
Hot food and drinks – such as soup, coffee and tea
Cold air – breathing in cold air can cause a tooth twinge for some people
If your teeth are sensitive, there are several simple but important steps you can take today to manage sensitive teeth and to help stop them from getting worse.
Please get in touch if you are concerned about any aspect of your dental health. We will treat you fairly and honestly - and we look forward to being able to help you.