Tooth sensitivity, especially to cold, is one of the most common dental complaints.  It is usually caused by exposed dentin. Dentin is the layer of tooth under the enamel. The overlying enamel is meant to protect the dentin from things like temperature changes and sweets. Fluid-filled tubules run from the inside of the tooth through the dentin, and  theses tubules are exposed to cold, hot, sweets, and even touch, the fluid can move within the tubules, causing pain that is felt in the nerve of the tooth.

The dentin can become exposed when the enamel gets thin due to wear or erosion from acids, or when the gum recedes exposing the root surface that has no enamel covering it.

Wear can be caused by a non-ideal bite, or from grinding and clenching your teeth, especially at night.  An appliance can easily be made to prevent this type of wear.  Acid erosion can occur with drinking a lot of fruit juices and pop, even the sugar-free variety. Certain digestive problems can cause acid erosion as well.  To help prevent erosion, cut back on juice and pop consumption, and never brush immediately after drinking or eating acidic foods. By waiting at least half an hour, the saliva has a chance to neutralize the acidic environment, and re-mineralize the teeth.

Receding gums can be caused by gum disease, and also from over aggressive tooth brushing. Always use a soft-bristled tooth brush, and brush up and down or in circles, never back and forth over the root surfaces. But don’t forget to brush near the gumline, as any plaque here will cause inflammation, resulting in the gums receding, exposing the root surface.

There are different treatments available for sensitive teeth, such as using toothpaste especially formulated for sensitive teeth, fluoride treatments, root desensitising agents, and bonding the exposed root surfaces.  We can help you manage your tooth sensitivity, and make sure that you can enjoy cold treats without pain.