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Why are my teeth sensitive?

Does the thought of biting into an ice cream make you cringe? If so, you’re not alone! Sensitive teeth are one of the most common dental complaints. Sometimes people suffer for so long that they get used to having teeth that always seem to be ‘on edge’!

While it is normal for teeth to feel hot and cold, extreme sensitivity can be painful, annoying and debilitating. Sensitive teeth are no fun when you can’t eat your favorite foods! So why are your teeth sensitive?

This blog we will be discussing the causes of sensitivity and what can be done to help!

Why are teeth sensitive?

The causes for tooth sensitivity can be numerous. Sometimes there is not a single cause, but a combination of causes. All natural teeth have a nerve inside that lets us know how hot and cold food and drinks are. Without this design, we would easily consume foods and liquids at extremes of temperatures that could give us stomach aches, or worse, cause burns and damage to our lips, mouth and throat!

Besides the normal amount of ‘feeling’ that we get from our teeth, ‘sensitive teeth’ occur when this natural sensation of hot and cold becomes uncomfortable or painful! Sensitivity can also be set off by sweet or acidic foods, due to chemical changes on the surfaces of the teeth.

Some of the leading causes of tooth sensitivity include:

  • Gum recession (the gums no longer cover the roots of the teeth properly);

  • Gingivitis and gum disease (the gums no longer hang on tight onto the teeth letting cold air and liquids under the gums that irritate the tooth roots);

  • Physical damage to the teeth and loss of enamel (loss of the hard white layer);

  • Acid damage to the teeth (from soft drinks, sports drinks, lemon, stomach acid);

  • After tooth whitening and use of bleaching products;

  • Open cavities or holes in the tooth (tooth decay);

  • Cracks in the teeth;

  • Loose fillings.

How do these things happen?

All of the causes above could have entire blog posts written on each of them, and some of which can already be found on our website!

Unless the cause is obvious, sometimes the only way of finding out the cause of your sensitivity is by having your teeth checked by your dentist!

What can be done to help?

Depending on the cause of the sensitivity, the methods of improving the situation can differ. In some severe cases, sensitivity cannot be easily ‘cured’ and can only be managed and maintained.

Below is a brief list of some steps your dentist may take to try and get rid of your sensitivity, depending on the cause.

Cause - Solution

Gum recession ----------------------------------------Gum disease treatment, desensitizing agents, fillings.

Gingivitis and gum disease -----------------------Gum disease treatment, desensitizing agents.

Physical damage to the teeth and loss of enamel ---------Desensitizing agents, fillings.

Acid damage to the teeth -------------------------------------------Desensitizing agents, fillings.

After tooth whitening and use of bleaching products ----Desensitizing agents.

Open cavity or hole in the tooth ----------------------------------Fillings, root canal treatment.

Cracks in the teeth -----------------------------------------------------Filling or a crown.

Loose fillings -------------------------------------------------------------Replace the filling.

What is a ‘desensitizing agent’?

These are products that can help to ‘seal’ the tooth chemically, almost like a clear coat of wax on your car. This helps to protect the tooth against hot, cold or sweet.

Desensitizing products include:

  • Toothpastes for sensitive teeth (popular brands include Sensodyne, Colgate Prorelief, Colgate Neutrafluor 5000);

  • Tooth Mousse (another great product that can help to repair acid damage);

  • Fluoride gels and varnishes (these are professional strength products you can only have applied at a dentist).

We hope you found this blog post helpful. Please call us if you have sensitive teeth, why suffer any longer?

Take care and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Kind regards,

The team at Gateway Dental Health

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