Teeth contain nerves in the centre, so they're supposed to be sensitive to pressure and temperature to some degree. But if this sensitivity is causing you discomfort, there could be something wrong.
If you wince every time you have a cold drink or brush your teeth, make an appointment with your dentist. They can examine your teeth for signs of problems and recommend treatments for sensitive teeth to help ease your discomfort.
Fluoride is routinely added to toothpaste and drinking water as a safe way to help protect teeth against decay. Fluoride gel can be applied by a professional dental hygienist as part of your regular check-up and clean at the dentist, and additional fluoride treatments may be recommended to help reduce teeth sensitivity.
Toothpastes for sensitive teeth
Switching to a soft toothbrush and a toothpaste designed especially for sensitive teeth could help to make brushing more comfortable. Your dentist may also be able to provide a desensitising toothpaste to help reduce sensations on your teeth.
Bonding, fillings or crowns
If a tooth is sensitive because the enamel has been damaged or worn down, a dental treatment to restore the tooth could make this sensitivity go away. Depending on how much a tooth has been damaged, your dentist may recommend:
- dental bonding or fissure sealants to fill in small cracks, pits and grooves
- a white filling to seal a cavity and restore the shape of a tooth, or
- a dental crown to cover a severely damaged or weakened tooth.
Root canal treatment
A sensitive tooth that's also painful is sometimes a symptom of a tooth pulp infection, which requires root canal therapy to treat. This involves removing the infected or damaged tissue from inside the tooth, replacing it with a synthetic filling and finally sealing the tooth with a crown or large filling. After root canal treatment, your tooth won't feel painful or sensitive and it should function as normal.
Gum disease that isn't treated early can cause the gums to pull back from the teeth, exposing the sensitive roots. If your gums have receded, this lost gum tissue may be replaced with a tissue graft from elsewhere in your mouth.
How to avoid tooth sensitivity
Some people's teeth are naturally more sensitive than others, but it's more common for tooth sensitivity to develop over time as tooth enamel gets damaged or worn down, exposing the softer layers beneath. Teeth may also feel more sensitive after dental procedures that remove some of the enamel.
To lower your risk of developing sensitive teeth, we recommend:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing gently at least once a day
- Brushing with gentle stokes, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste
- Cutting down on food and drink with high sugar or acid content
- Drinking plenty of water, especially tap water with fluoride
- If you grind or clench your teeth, your dentist may recommend treatments such as wearing a night guard
- If you're considering a teeth whitening treatment, make sure your dentist knows you have sensitive teeth so they can adjust your treatment or recommend other options
- Visiting your dentist twice a year for a check-up and hygiene treatments
Talk to a dentist in St Heliers
Are you worried about sensitive teeth or other issues with your teeth or gums? Make an appointment at St Heliers Dental Centre so our experienced dentists can recommend the best treatments for you.