Tooth Sensitivity - Causes and Prevention

The pain that is caused by sensitive teeth can make enjoying a nice meal or beverage almost impossible. Knowing the causes can help you to avoid this problem and if it exists, learn how to control the damage. Typically, the fact that one's teeth are sensitive becomes apparent when drinking a cup of tea or coffee or cold water or eating ice cream causes a sharp pain in the teeth. Even eating hot or cold foods or just inhaling cold air through the mouth can cause the pain.

  • Incorrect methods of brushing the teeth
  • Brushing in a manner that causes the gums to recede resulting in the dentin being exposed
  • Lack of oral hygiene resulting in tooth decay
  • Damage to the teeth by injury or habits like grinding the teeth
  • Medical conditions
  • Excessive consumption of foods and beverages that are acidic and eat away at the enamel. This includes fruits like tomatoes and soft or sports drinks.

Preventing Enamel Loss

  • The loss of enamel cannot be reversed and once it is lost, there is no way to grow it back. For this reason, preventing the loss is critically important. To reduce the risk of enamel loss:
  • Use a proper technique for brushing the teeth. A soft-bristled brush is best. Do not use excessive pressure when brushing. Hold the brush at an angle of approximately 45 degrees from the teeth while brushing. Move the brush in a circular motion.
  • If eliminating acidic foods and drinks is not possible, the consumption should be reduced to the maximum. When consuming anything acidic, rinse the mouth thoroughly with plain water after eating or drinking. If possible, wait for 30 minutes and then brush the teeth.
  • Visit a dentist every 6 months for a check-up, even if you do not have any symptoms of tooth sensitivity or other problems.
  • If you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, try to control it. During the day, chewing gum is known to help in this. At night, using a mouth guard can stop clenching or grinding while you are asleep.

Damage Control

  • Tooth sensitivity can occur even after taking all precautions and with the most proactive care. If it does happen, it can affect any of the teeth in your mouth. If you are suffering from tooth sensitivity, the first and most important thing to do is to visit a dentist. He will, after examining your teeth to know the cause and extent of the problem, create a specific treatment plan. This could include:
  • Using special toothpaste that will help to reduce the sensitivity and so mitigate the extent of the pain.
  • Applying fluoride gel which helps to strengthen the enamel of the teeth and by doing so, reduces the sensitivity and so the pain.
  • In clinic treatments. If the sensitivity has been caused by decay or damage to the teeth, fitting a crown is a common solution. A root canal procedure is another common option for dealing with damaged teeth. If the problem lies in the fact that the gums have recessed, surgery in the form of a gum graft may be a solution.
  • The first step in dealing with sensitive teeth is to consult a dentist. Any attempts to self-medicate or treat the problem could result in making it worse which will result in making the treatment more difficult.

Article by Dr. Preeti L. Anand, MDS.,PGCOI
Senior Dental Surgeon & Implantologist
Kauvery Hospital

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