Having sensitive teeth can make eating and drinking your favourite foods a painful experience. Most people with sensitive teeth, also known as dentine hypersensitivity, experience pain when drinking very hot or cold foods, but pain can also occur while chewing, or even in very cold weather. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to combat tooth sensitivity.
The most common causes of tooth sensitivity are enamel erosion and gingival (gum) recession. Both of these processes can increase the sensitivity of your teeth to hot and cold stimuli, as the nerves within the dentine slowly lose their protection over time.
First of all, visit your dentist and discuss the problem, giving details of the symptoms you have been experiencing, Your dentist may be able to apply a bonding agent to sensitive areas to seal and protect them. They can also identify any other dental problems that might be contributing to your dental pain.
Next, take a look at your toothbrush. You might benefit from changing to one with softer bristles and brushing a little more gently, as over-brushing can cause damage to teeth and gums. Avoid brushing horizontally, as this can expose the roots of your teeth over time, instead try and brush in circles that cover your teeth and gums.
Your dentist will be able to recommend a toothpaste for you to use. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth contain potassium nitrate, which will help to reduce pain and discomfort. Remember to floss at least once a day in order to remove trapped food and keep gums healthy.
It can take a while to recover from tooth sensitivity, so until your teeth start to feel less sensitive it is wise to avoid anything that sets off the pain, such as ice cream and hot coffee. Also watch out for sugary, acidic foods and drinks and be sure to brush or chew gum after eating. Enamel erosion increases when you consume a lot of acidic, sugary things, including soft drinks, wine, fruit juice and confectionery, so cutting down on these or avoiding them altogether is a good idea.
If you are a smoker and you have sensitive teeth, one likely cause is gum recession. Smoking causes your gums to recede, leaving the dentine exposed. Giving up smoking will reduce your dental problems.