Sensitive Teeth – What’s the underlying cause?
Sensitive teeth can happen for many different reasons – some of these aren’t anything to worry about but there could also be more sinister underlying issues such as tooth decay or infection. Today we’ll have a look at how to discern the difference between these.
Some people simply have sensitive teeth. Dentists call this hypersensitivity and since making a checkup is generally not necessary, this issue can be managed at home using sensitive toothpaste. If you do have any questions, we suggest that you make an appointment with your dentist to see if this is the case and they’ll be happy to help you manage sensitive teeth.
Gums do recede with age but this is also a problem for our younger patients due to gum disease, missing teeth which are next to each other, and teeth repoisitioning after orthodontic treatment. Brushing too hard is another very common reason for receding gums. As it recedes, more and more of the root is exposed, exacerbating tooth sensitivity. Make an appointment with your dentist to discuss options and brushing technique!
Tooth enamel can be worn away due to acid erosion or hard tooth brushing. This leaves the sensitive dentine layer exposed. Acidic foods and drinks will worsen enamel wear – drinking through a straw or rinsing with plain water can help minimise this. Internal acids, e.g. acid reflux (GERD) can also affect enamel erosion. Use a soft toothbrush and a gentle brushing technique to try and minimise wear. If enamel loss is significant, we can place a filling over the exposed tooth surface to replace the enamel and protect the tooth.
When a tooth fractures, the second dentine layer of the tooth can be exposed, which makes it a lot more sensitive. In this case the broken portion is repaired and the tooth covered and sealed again.
Tooth decay can cause a tooth cavity. You may only be sensitive to cold at the start – sensitivity to hot food and drinks often means that the nerve is deteriorating. A filling can usually solve this issue but in more severe situations such as infection, further treatment may be necessary.
Regardless of the cause, we recommend getting checked out while the problem is still manageable. Please feel free to contact the friendly team at Walloon Dental and we’d be happy to help you!