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Dental

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Sensitivity

Sensitivity – what causes it and how to manage the symptoms?

  • Enamel - covers the tooth. It is the hardest substance in the body and this is not sensitive.

  • Dentine - the major sensitive part of the tooth. Dentine contains tiny tubules which run from the edge of the tooth to the nerves in the centre.

  • Pulp - centre of the tooth which contains the nerves.

 

Exposed open tubules

 

  • If the tubules become exposed due to gum recession, acid erosion or general tooth wear it will also expose nerve endings.

  • When the nerve endings are exposed, sudden changes in temperature can make your teeth feel sensitive, usually when you have hot or cold food/drinks. Sweet foods/drinks and fizzy drinks can also lead to sensitivity.

 

Most common causes of gum recession are:

  • heavy abrasive brushing

  • presence of moderate/advanced gum disease and poor oral hygiene

Less common causes would include clenching and grinding your teeth, poor orthodontic treatment and oral piercings.

Acid erosion is a loss of enamel caused by regular exposure to acids. This includes frequent intake of acidic foods and/or fizzy drinks and medical conditions such as acid reflux and eating disorders.General tooth surface loss increases with age and can cause sensitivity. The way you bite together and the relation of your upper teeth to your lower teeth can also increase the risk of tooth wear. Grinding your teeth is another factor. Speak to your dentist for further advice.

How can you manage sensitivity?

  • Eliminate the cause of sensitivity if possible.

  • Use sensitive toothpaste twice a day and don’t rinse it out. Most sensitive

    toothpastes work by sealing the open tubules to relieve sensitivity, however different types of sensitive toothpaste will have different active ingredients. Ask your dentist of hygienist for more advice.

  • Don’t switch between toothpastes if you found one that works for you, try to use it continuously.

  • Sensitive toothpaste can also be used as an ointment and rubbed in for 1 minute into the areas of sensitivity for instant relief.

  • If the sensitive toothpaste doesn’t work for you, speak to your dentist about potential treatment options.

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