Sensitive Teeth

Have you ever watched someone bite into a popsicle and wondered if they were going to murder you in your sleep? If so then you are one of those people who have sensitive teeth. The pain associated with sensitive teeth can make activities like brushing, eating, and drinking painful, and that is a travesty.

What causes sensitive teeth

The most typical cause is an exposed root or worn tooth enamel but a cavity, cracked or chipped tooth, worn fillings or gum disease can be contributing factors.

What eases the pain

There is no easy, permanent way to desensitize teeth but there are fixes that can help.

  • Desensitizing toothpaste:  Using this on a regular basis will certainly block a lot of the pain caused but you’ll need to continually use it, which is not a huge deal since you’re already brushing regularly (right?).
  • Flouride: Dentists will often use fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel which will reduce pain. They may also suggest a prescription fluoride for you to use at home with a tray applicator.
  • Desensitizing or bonding: This is a good solution to combat the exposed root issue but your dentist will try other alternatives before going this route. The dentist will apply bonding resin to the root area and this can be a lasting solution. A local anesthetic might be needed.
  • Surgical gum graft: If the exposed root is due to loss of gum tissue, the dentist can take gum tissue from elsewhere in your mouth and apply it to the affected site. As with the bonding, the dentist will want to try other measures before trying a more drastic solution.
  • Root Canal: This is the big one. If you are in severe pain, the dentist may recommend a more invasive procedure. A root canal deals with the soft core of a tooth called the pulp. You can read all about root canals in our blog on the procedure here. This is the most successful treatment for sensitive teeth however, it is a significant treatment.

Preventing recurrence

If you’ve been able to get your sensitive tooth pain down to a minimum there are a few things you can do to prevent recurrence: Use a soft bristle brush and make sure you’re flossing and brushing twice a day. Don’t use gritty toothpaste and let the brush do the work for you, don’t be aggressive, be gentle! If you grind your teeth, get your dentist to make you a mouthguard.

Besides aggressive brushing, many foods and beverages can cause enamel to erode. Citrus fruits, carbonated drinks and wine (sorry) can all contribute to worn enamel and will increase the pain associated with sensitive teeth. However, just swash some water around after consumption and you should be ok.