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The 411 on Sensitive Teeth

‘A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears.

- Anne Roiphe

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about tooth sensitivity. So I decided to let it shape this month’s article.
Before I go on, I recommend that if something in your mouth persistently hurts, it is always a good idea to see your dental professional. Better to catch a small problem then to ignore and have it becomes a BIG problem.

Sensitivity occurs with exposed dentin. Dentin is made of tiny tubes, which lead from the outer surface of the tooth to the chamber that holds the nerves and blood vessels. The root of the tooth is made of dentin. You will also find dentin under enamel (which makes up the crown of the tooth).



Temperature changes or pressure changes on or near exposed/worn dentin can cause a sharp pain that disappears immediately (even if the memory of such pain doesn’t!) This is dentin hypersensitivity.

Exposed dentin can be caused by many factors (gum disease, grinding, excessive biting force, aggressive toothbrush technique, acid erosion) A good idea to find out the cause and what you might be able to do to remove the cause or prevent progression to a bigger problem.

In the meantime, to treat the symptoms:

Desensitizing toothpaste…Colgate Sensitivity Protection, Colgate Pro-Relief or Sensodyne toothpastes can work wonders. They MUST be used consistently, twice a day to be effective. If you stop using this toothpaste, or are inconsistent, the sensitivity will return. You can also try applying this to specific areas of trouble and leave overnight.

If you are an aggressive toothbrusher, you may need some advice on how to adjust your technique to avoid further damage. I find aggressive toothbrushing is often after that ‘clean feeling’ to which I would recommend an electric toothbrush. They tend to be more efficient without excessive pressure. Gentle but thorough is needed for all toothbrushing. If toothbrushing itself is causing sensitivity, switching to an extra-soft or ultra-soft brush is a start.

Acid can cause serious damage to enamel structure, consider your diet and minimize acidic and acid forming foods & drinks. Acid Reflux & Bulimia can also cause erosion, so considering overall health & wellness can benefit oral health as well.

Your Dental Professional can also offer desensitizing agents that are applied to the dentin should desensitizing toothpaste not reduce sensitivity.

It would be such a shame to miss eating things you love, due to sensitivity, when there are simple solutions. Don’t miss out!


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