It’s a hot sunny day, and you’ve decided to treat yourself to an ice lolly after work to celebrate finishing that massive project. You unwrap it and take a bite only to painfully clutch your cheek as an annoying twinge jumps from tooth to tooth. Congratulations! You’re suffering from sensitive, something that affects quite a few of us especially those in our late twenties. Sensitive teeth can be a mild annoyance or, in severe cases, have you panting in discomfort should the tooth encounter something hot or cold.
Why So Sensitive?
Sensitive teeth are caused by the protective layer of tooth enamel that protects the more vulnerable layer of dentine underneath wearing away. Sadly, unlike our skin, for example, our teeth have no way of repairing themselves, and once it’s gone it’s gone! Using a hard-bristled toothbrush can lead to toothbrush abrasion, which happens when you’ve brushed too hard and over time the enamel has been worn away. Other causes include dental erosion from acidic foods, receding gums which leave the roots vulnerable and gum disease where plaque or tartar build up has made brushing teeth difficult.
Hot And Cold
We’ve already used ice cream as an example, but you may notice it when enjoying a cup of coffee, soup a slice of cake or a cold drink like iced lemonade or a slice of cheese fresh from the fridge. Often overly sweet or acidic foods can aggravate the issue and in severe cases cause an extreme amount of dental pain, especially if the affected tooth has a cavity in it. Should you experience sudden, sharp tooth pain that isn’t cured by brushing, gargling or taking an over-the-counter painkiller we would suggest you head to the emergency room. Where they should be able to refer you for emergency dental treatment and dentists nearby who’ll be able to carry out the procedure necessary straight away.
Any Treatment Options?
Your dentist will be able to see what’s causing the sensitivity and advise you to either use a dental desensitizing gel, or have a scale and polish if the problem is down to a buildup of hard plaque called tartar. A fluoride gel will help calm things down a notch, as it’s designed to give the affected tooth protection as well as boost its enamel quotient. Bear in mind, sensitivity won’t go away overnight and could be some weeks before you feel like your old self. Brushing with a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth will give you some relief and if things don’t improve your dentist may suggest sealing the tooth neck to cover exposed dentine.
How Do I Stop It?
Brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once at night with a fluoride toothpaste along with a soft bristle brush and avoid over brushing. Don’t forget to buy a new toothbrush, or replace the electric brush head every three months as the bristles become worn and bent. It’s great that you’re concerned about oral hygiene, but brushing straight after eating isn’t the best option. Chew your food slowly, drink plenty of water and then brush and floss around an hour after finishing your last mouthful.