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How to deal with tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is a common problem and it is more common than you might think. Nearly everyone experiences some bouts of tooth sensitivity during their lifetime. When this becomes an issue is when the sensitivity is really frequent, long lasting, or begins to affect quality of life.

The symptoms associated with tooth sensitivity appear to feel like a sudden and sharp pain that emerges when you come into contact with a triggering cause. Fortunately the discomfort is only temporary but it still enough to become a nuisance for many people.


Tooth sensitivity can affect anyone and unlike some dental problems there are no target groups or age when onset normally occurs. Tooth sensitivity usually presents itself as pain when the teeth are exposed to substances which are hot, cold, acidic, sweet or sour. Sometimes even just the air that we breathe is enough to set tooth sensitivity off. Tooth sensitivity normally occurs as a result of a reduction in the amount of dentin (dentin being one of the four types of bony tissue that is situated underneath the enamel.)


How is tooth sensitivity caused?

There are many ways in which you can find yourself with a tooth sensitivity problem. Some of the most common include:

* Either using a brush which is too hard or brushing your teeth too vigorously. Everyone wants to ensure their teeth are clean but over-zealous brushing is not the answer. Doing this can wear down enamel leading dentin to become exposed and causing sensitivity.


* Another way which sensitivity can occur is if a person is suffering from gum problems. Receding gums can bring exposure of the tooth root leading to these problems.


* If you are prone to grinding your teeth or clenching them then beware that this can cause enamel reduction leading to tooth sensitivity.


* Be careful about some of the foods you eat or excessive use of mouthwash also. Certain ingredients that are found (e.g. acidity in foods or chemicals in mouthwashes) make it more likely that dentin reduction can be accelerated thus leading to problems.


How is sensitivity treated?

Sometimes tooth sensitivity can go of its own accord. You may also find you get bouts of it coming and going through life. One of the most common and ‘everyday’ treatments for sensitivity is using desensitising toothpaste. Once this has been used a few times, a type of coating builds up which stops the pain associated with sensitivity. Fluoride is another option a dentist may suggest if you are suffering with this condition. Extra fluoride is added to the sensitive parts of the teeth to strengthen them. More advanced treatments for tooth sensitivity include bonding the roots by using a form of resin. If your sensitivity has been caused because of gum recession then a gum graft can be attempted to seal the area.


Our advice? If you are suffering from sensitivity, initially try a desensitising toothpaste at home to see if you can get any positive results. Be sure to mention your problem at your next dental appointment, so a professional can take a closer look for you and advise accordingly.


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