Sensitive teeth can cause a lot of discomfort, but it is manageable. Canterbury dentist, Lucille Illingworth explains more
Little is more unpleasant than when your teeth come into contact with ice cream or a steaming hot cup of tea when you suffer with sensitivity. This is a condition that affects many thousands of us in the UK and it can be caused by many things, some of which are preventable with a little care.
In today’s Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic blog, we will take a look at some of these causes and also at some ways that you can help to manage, and even reverse, the effects of sensitive teeth.
Why are some teeth sensitive and others not?
Essentially, if you have sensitive teeth, it is often because the dentin layer has become exposed. This layer is porous and allows temperature signatures to reach the nerves much more easily. This in turn sends a signal to our brains which leads to us experiencing pain and discomfort.
There are a number of reasons why this can happen and an obvious way is if a tooth is broken or even cracked. This is why we always recommend that you have a tooth examined by one of our Canterbury dentists if it has received a blow. You may not be able to see any damage yourself, but if there is a fine crack for example, not only does this make it more likely that you will experience more sensitivity, but it also exposes an area where bacteria can enter. Tooth decay is probably not far behind unless you have the tooth restored.
An increasing problem that can lead to sensitive teeth is enamel erosion. The number of cases of this has grown over the years, quite likely in line with our increased consumption of drinks that are high in both sugar and acids. These will damage and thin the enamel, causing the dentin to be more exposed to extremes of temperature. Avoiding, or at least reducing foodstuffs like this, in addition to brushing your teeth gently rather than forcefully, will help to protect the enamel on your teeth.
Finally, gum disease can cause the gums to recede and expose the less well protected roots of the teeth. Make sure that you look after your gums by brushing them lightly, as well as using floss and keeping regular appointments with our hygienists.
Management and restoration of sensitive teeth
So how can you avoid the discomfort associated with having sensitive teeth if it is too late for prevention?
You could take painkillers, which would work but these should only be taken as a temporary measure and long term use for situations like this is not recommended. For longer term management, you might benefit from using a toothpaste that is designed specifically for sensitive teeth. These work by either covering up any exposed tubules in the teeth or by desensitising the nerves. This may offer at least some degree of relief from the discomfort.
You may also want to avoid eating and drinking any products that are very hot or very cold, allowing them to cool or warm up before consuming. This is not ideal though and not being able to start a meal until our friends are half way through theirs doesn’t make for the best dining experience! Perhaps the best thing that you can do to help avoid tooth sensitivity is to look at various treatment options. As mentioned before, any cracks or breakages should be restored and there are various ways we can achieve this. In more extreme cases, veneers can be used to replace the enamel covering the front surface of the the teeth. Veneers are usually made from porcelain and can be produced in a similar colour to your natural teeth.
Veneers are long lasting and should not need to be replaced for around ten years if you look after them correctly. Not only do they look good of course, but they also provide a barrier to the temperatures that formerly made you wince in pain.
If you have a problem with sensitive teeth, we recommend coming along to Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic for an examination so that we can put together a treatment plan to bring comfort. You can reach the team at our Canterbury dental clinic on 01227 463529.