Sensitive Teeth

People whose teeth are sensitive feel pain when they eat or drink things which are very cold ( most usually), hot or sweet and when brushing. The classic example is eating ice cream, but simply being out in the cold weather breathing on a frosty morning can be enough to set off the probloem.Sensitive teeth are a common complaint, mainly in the winter.

Studies show that one in four people suffer from sensitive teeth, however, this is greater in the 25-45 age group and in women. People most likely to suffer from this marginal tooth sensitivity are those who over- enthusiastically brush their teeth, consume more than usual amounts of wine or citrus drinks, have had treatment for gum disease or who have special medical problems - like bulimia.

Typically pain from sensitivity is sudden, sharp, and stabbing but subsides very quickly. If left untreated, the pain of sensitivity can lead to poor oral hygiene - it can become quite painful for the sufferer to brush their teeth so they stop doing a thorough job, which only makes the sensitivity problem worse. The problem usually has a simple cause but it can be complicated to treat. It most commomly occurs on the part of the tooth where it joins the gum. The enamel thins out and finishes in this area, so the sensitive part of the tooth (dentine) is exposed. Normally the gum covers the dentine, but with gum recession and abrasion or erosion the senstivity occurs.

The tooth can be treated with solutions that block the thousands of microscopic tubes in the dentine that conduct the stimulus to the nerve inside the tooth. Concentrated fluoride gels and high concentration fluoride toothpastes are also usefuland the dentist may recommend desentsitising toothpaste that contains the active ingredients to block the tubules. This treatment may take 4-6 weeks to completely eliminate the problem.

Dentists also advise people to use the right type of toothbrush, especially as a lot of teeth sensitivity comes from over- brushing with a hard brush. Soft brushes are recommended. If you are experiencing continued problems with tooth sensitivity, it is probably a good idea to visit your dentist. No one needs to suffer from this problem when there is often a simple solution

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Auckland Dental Association 1/195 Main Highway, Ellerslie, Auckland. Phone: 09 580 0081 Email: admin@ada.co.nz   
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