How to identify and treat sensitive teeth

Looking for the advice of a dentist Wellington can trust? Today we’re talking about sensitive teeth – if you’ve been experiencing discomfort, this is the article for you. Read on to find out about the varieties of tooth sensitivity, how to spot the cause, and how to help manage the pain.

Possible triggers

To identify whether or not your teeth are sensitive, it’s worth looking into the possible triggers. There are a number of things that may cause sudden sharp pains in sensitive teeth, including:
• Cold – cool temperatures can penetrate enamel and chill the dentin of sensitive teeth, prompting a painful response. Cold air can also be a cause of this; sucking in air suddenly can pull air through microscopic holes in your dentin.
• Heat – similarly, high-temperature foods or beverages can cause pain by heating the gas produced by bacteria within your teeth. This can cause painful internal pressure.
• Sugar – sweet sensitivity is another kind of pain you may be experiencing. If sugar comes in contact with your tooth’s dentin, a possible reaction is loss of fluid, which creates a similar pressure imbalance to heat.

Conducting a self-examination

If you’re concerned about your teeth, there are a couple of major signs you can look for yourself. These include plaque, tooth decay, gingivitis, and cavities. Plaque is relatively easy to notice – food by products and proteins build up on your teeth over time and, if you fail to brush often enough, you’ll be able to see and feel the plaque that builds up as a result. Tartar is plaque that has hardened, and is usually a yellow or brown colour.
Tooth decay may not cause any symptoms straight away, but is usually visible as white or darker blotches on your teeth. If left unchecked, tooth decay will progress form simple sensitivity into cavities or infections.
Gingivitis is also relatively easy to spot as red or swollen gums. Gingivitis is important to take note of, as it can develop into periodontal disease if ignored. This is much worse than tooth sensitivity, as it can result in the loosening of your teeth from the gums.
Finally, you may notice cavities in your teeth while performing a self-examination. Cavities are typically noticeable as visible holes in teeth, and are commonly associated with bad breath. Cavities may not always contribute to sensitive teeth at first but, if ignored for a long time, they will.

Mitigating the pain

If your teeth are sensitive and causing you consistent pain, seeking professional advice is the best thing you can do. In the meantime, there are several toothpaste brands available at your local supermarket or pharmacy which are specifically designed for sensitive teeth. It’s important to find the right one for you, and then also to use it properly – many people use sensitivity toothpastes until the pain subsides, and then switch back, only for it to return. Your dentist will be able to recommend the best toothpaste and pain management for your teeth.
Another avenue you can pursue is altering your brushing method. When you have sensitive teeth, using a softer brush, avoiding scrubbing too hard, and making sure you brush for a full two minutes are all advisable. Brushing your teeth too hard, with a very stiff brush, can eventually strip off layers of tooth enamel. It can be difficult to alter these habits, but it could completely turn your oral health around.
Limiting highly acidic foods and beverages is another great tactic for sensitive teeth. Red wine, soft drinks, and acidic fruits all have the potential to help wear away your enamel too. Over-indulging in these is dangerous even if you don’t have sensitive teeth, as enamel can’t grow back. Even diet soft drinks – while absent of sugar – alter the acidity of your mouth, which is why chewing gum is recommended to stimulate saliva and help prevent tooth decay.
Finally, many people have sensitive teeth due to grinding. Teeth grinding, especially during sleep, is a common cause of tooth sensitivity, and some may not even notice that they are doing it. Try wearing a mouth guard at night, and see if it makes a difference. Beyond that, there are exercises you can do to relax your jaw, and it may even be worth examining your mental health, as tooth grinding is often a symptom of unaddressed stress and anxiety in your life.

Talk to the dental experts

From tooth sensitivity to wisdom teeth removal, Victoria Street Dental has you covered. Come talk to us about your oral health today, and we can help you stop worrying about your teeth, and get back to enjoying life. Book a dental examination on our website now!