The Ultimate Guide to Managing Sensitive Teeth

Holding jaw in pain

Imagine indulging in your favourite ice cream without wincing in pain and sipping a cup of hot tea without any discomfort. Tooth sensitivity is not something that should hold you back from enjoying the things you love. 

Tooth sensitivity is a dental condition where you feel a short, sharp pain in your teeth when exposed to an external stimulus. It could be hot or cold foods and drinks, the cold air or even the touch of your toothbrush when brushing your teeth. 

While this pain typically lasts for a few seconds and wears off once the stimulus is removed, it’s important to understand what underlying condition might be causing sensitivity in the first place. This will make treating your sensitive teeth easier and more effective. 

What are the Causes of Tooth Sensitivity 

Enamel erosion is one of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity. Your tooth enamel is the outer layer of your tooth and is a protective armour that shields it. However, this outer layer of your tooth can get chipped and worn down, exposing the dentine. The dentine is a soft layer underneath the enamel, which is extremely sensitive to external stimuli. So, when an external stimulus directly contacts the dentine, it will then cause that sharp pain.

Enamel erosion can happen as a result of the following:  

  • Brushing your teeth too hard
  • Consuming food and drinks that are acidic 
  • Excessive strain due to Bruxism, where you grind and clench your teeth

In addition to enamel erosion, other causes of tooth sensitivity include: 

  • Gum recession – Gum disease (periodontal disease) or poor oral hygiene can lead to gum recession, exposing the tooth roots and causing tooth sensitivity. 
  • Tooth decay – Plaque build-up may lead to cavities or dental caries, causing tooth decay that eats away at the structure of your tooth. This will then leave the sensitive inner layers of your tooth exposed. 
  • Cracked teeth – Cracks and fractures in your teeth can expose nerves inside the tooth. As a result, you may experience pain and sensitivity when chewing or when exposed to extreme temperatures. 
  • Dental restorations – Sometimes, after getting dental restorations like fillings or crowns or even a teeth whitening treatment, your teeth and gums may become sensitive. This, however, is temporary and will wear off within a few days. 

While tooth sensitivity is common, it is not something you should ignore, as it could indicate an underlying dental problem. If you are experiencing sensitivity (especially for prolonged periods of time), swollen gums or discolouration of teeth, we recommend you visit us as soon as possible. 

Tooth Sensitivity Treatments

Depending on the underlying causes of tooth sensitivity, our dentist may recommend: 

1. Using a desensitised toothpaste

We may recommend desensitising toothpastes that are specially formulated for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes work by creating a barrier over the exposed dentine or soothing the nerves in the tooth, preventing them from responding to external stimuli. Look out for desensitised toothpastes that contain ingredients like potassium nitrate or sodium fluoride. 

2. Dental restorations 

If you have a weak or damaged tooth, dental fillings or crowns can help protect your tooth from further damage and sensitivity. If sensitivity results from damaged dental restorations, our dentists will replace your existing restorations with new crowns or fillings. This will restore your tooth’s structure and eliminate sensitivity. 

3. Gum grafting 

Are receding gums contributing to tooth sensitivity? A gum grafting procedure involves taking tissue from another healthy area and transplanting it to the affected area. This can help reduce sensitivity by covering exposed tooth roots. 

4. Dental bonding & sealants 

If sensitivity is caused by exposed tooth roots or dentine, our dentists may apply dental sealants or bonding material. This will cover the exposed area and improve the appearance of your tooth while protecting it from external stimuli that may potentially cause sensitivity.  

5. Treatments for Bruxism 

If you grind or clench your teeth at night, our dentists may recommend dental splints or mouthguards. They will act as a protective barrier, lessening the impact of teeth grinding and the strain it puts on your teeth. To ensure optimal protection, we will offer dental splints that are completely customised to your unique smile. 

6. Schedule regular dental check-ups 

Make sure to visit our dental clinic at least every 6 months for checkups and cleanings to ensure your oral health is in tip-top condition. When you come in for a check-up, our dentists will assess your oral health, identify potential dental problems and recommend personalised treatments to address these issues before they develop into severe, costly conditions. 

How Can I Prevent Sensitive Teeth? 

Taking good care of your oral health is the foundation for preventing tooth sensitivity. Here are some things you can do in the comfort of your home to prevent tooth sensitivity: 

  • Brush your teeth twice daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and desensitising toothpaste. Take care to brush your teeth very gently to avoid damaging the enamel. 
  • Floss your teeth at least once daily to remove food particles and clean between the teeth where your brush can’t reach. 
  • Limit the consumption of acidic and sugary food and drinks because they can contribute to the erosion of your tooth enamel and also lead to tooth decay. 
  • Rinse your mouth with water after eating acidic and sugary foods, and after meals. 
  • Drink plenty of water over the course of the day. This will help wash away bacteria in the mouth. 
  • Avoid using over-the-counter whitening products and kits as they may contain ingredients that can be harmful to your teeth and cause sensitivity. Always visit your dentist to seek professional whitening treatments that are tailored to your needs. 

Don’t let sensitive teeth hold you back. If you are concerned about sensitive teeth, call or visit us at Wyndham Dental to determine what’s causing this sensitivity and receive personalised solutions. 

Our friendly dentists will offer advice on how to take care of your oral health and prevent sensitivity for a pain-free smile, so you can enjoy your favourite food and drinks!