If you avoid eating cold foods or drinking hot beverages because your teeth are sensitive, it may be time to get to the bottom of this painful condition.
If hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods and drinks, or breathing in cold air makes your teeth painful then you have sensitive teeth. Sensitive teeth are very common and are thought to affect 1 in every 2 people. If you are experiencing pain that is more severe and more constant, chances are it’s another form of mouth pain.
Sensitive teeth normally occur when the dentin of a tooth becomes exposed. This may be caused by receding gums, toothbrush abrasion or a highly acidic diet. You can reduce your risk of developing sensitive teeth by keeping your mouth as healthy as possible, with a good oral hygiene routine and a balanced diet.
Treatment for sensitive teeth
There are several treatments available and these include:
- Using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth
- Using a fluoride gel or rinse to strengthen teeth
- Applying a fluoride varnish
- Root canal treatment
- Placing fillings on areas where the dentin has become exposed to reduce sensitivity
Your dentist will be able to advise you on the best possible treatment to meet your needs.
Preventing sensitive teeth
To prevent sensitive teeth from recurring, brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and use interdental cleaning aids daily. Use gentle strokes, rather than vigorous or harsh scrubbing, and avoid using an abrasive toothpaste. If you grind your teeth, ask your dentist about a mouth guard. Tooth grinding can fracture teeth and cause sensitivity.
You might also consider taking care when eating or drinking acidic foods and drinks, such as carbonated drinks, citrus fruits and wine — all of which can remove small amounts of tooth enamel over time. When you drink acidic liquids, use a straw to limit contact with your teeth.