Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the tiny tubules that connect the inner layer of the enamel to the inside of the tooth (dentine) where the nerves live, are stimulated.

When an irritating substance reaches the nerve through the open tubules, it irritates the tooth, resulting in pain. Hot, cold, sweet and acids can all cause aggravation to exposed receding gums or sensitive teeth causing sufferers to have discomfort when eating and drinking or even when breathing in cold air.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Tooth sensitivity is related to the exposure of the tubules in the inner core of the tooth (dentine) that are stimulated by touch (toothbrushing) or temperature (hot or cold drinks). The inner core can be exposed via internal issues (lost filling or dental decay) or external issues (excessive tooth brushing with a hard brush or gum recession). 

Fine enamel cracks as a result of night time clenching and grinding, as well as receding gums are the most common reasons people experience tooth sensitivity. Dental decay can also create tooth sensitivity to sweet substances.

What are some methods to reduce tooth sensitivity?

Methods to reduce sensitivity all relate to closing exposed inner nerve tubules.

If related to gum recession, then the use of desensitising toothpastes is recommended. The key to their use is to apply them at night before sleep, in thin layers but don’t rinse after application; this way the desensitizing ingredients have time to work on the exposed areas.

If related to internal issues, a comprehensive exam needs to be undertaken to elicit if it is new decay, a cracked tooth or leaking old filling that is creating the sensitivity. Once the cause is confirmed, replacement of the filling or rebuilding the tooth (in the event of an internal crack) needs to be carried out.

What is a cracked tooth?

Cracked teeth are a concern to dentists as there is a risk that if the crack is too deep inside the tooth structure, loss of a tooth may result.

Cracks can develop from a number of causes:

Tired of your sensitive teeth?

How do I treat a cracked tooth?

Pain on chewing or clenching your jaw is a strong sign of a crack in a tooth.

It is important to have a comprehensive exam to establish which tooth is the culprit and to treat the crack before it propagates into the deep areas of the tooth putting the tooth at risk of loss.

Treatment options once the problem tooth is identified include:

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