Did you know that despite tooth sensitivity being an important research topic for dentists, we still don't understand it fully?
We think that the pain of tooth sensitivity occurs due to the movement of fluid within part of the tooth structure. This theory is called the hydrodynamic theory (e.g. hydo meaning fluid, and dynamic indicating movement). What we do know it that people are living healthier, more active lives for longer and we want our teeth to come on the journey with us.
If your teeth are sensitive to cold or brushing we need to sort out if the problem is sensitivity or other things like cracked teeth or decay.
In the case of sensitive - YOU - are the best at preventing and treating this condition.
Things to think about and try:
Desensitising tooth pastes, why and how?
Generally tooth pastes advertised as effective for sensitive teeth can take two weeks of use twice a day to show some reduction in sensitivity. These should be used per manufacturers instructions. Alternatively to using just as a toothpaste it may be effective to place a small quantity of the toothpaste on the sensitive tooth/teeth and leave it for 5 minutes before rinsing it off. Tooth pastes for sensitive teeth generally have potassium salts as their active ingredient. These potassium ions pass easily though the enamel and dentine to the pulp where it is believed they act by interfering with the transmission of stimuli.
Why do teeth become sensitive?
As a result of gum recession and thinning of enamel or loss of enamel (Enamel is the outer protective surface of the tooth) you may allow the inner material of the tooth (dentine) to come into contact with something that irritates it.
Within teeth is a cavity in which nerves and blood vessels live and the nerves can become irritated by temperature changes, chemical irritation or changes in pressure. It is important to see your dentist to work out the cause of sensitivity. Decay or cracks can cause sensitivity, which require treatment to prevent or treat a serious dental problem.
Good cleaning: make sure you are cleaning to remove the bacteria around teeth without damaging the gums or teeth.
Diet: Limit acid which abrades the protective covering on teeth.
But it is starting to come back
If you managed to stop the pain of sensitive teeth and it is starting to come back make sure you get it checked out by the dentist. It may be a different problem. Also think about whether you have had lots of acid in your diet; are you using too much toothpaste when you brush; are you brushing from the gums to the teeth and not taking out all your stress try to saw your teeth in half!
We understand that, while not life threatening or a serious dental problem, having sensitive teeth is annoying and unpleasant. In a review of dental literature (ADJ vol 51: Sept 2006) http://www.ada.org.au/_ADJSep06.asp identified many different treatment options for helping relieve pain from having the dentine of the tooth irritated.
Dr Cameron Farmer BDSc (Melb)