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Let’s talk about sensitive teeth

Almost all of us have been unpleasantly surprised by a sharp pain in our teeth at one time or another – often after eating or drinking something particularly hot or cold. This isn't abnormal, but for some it's a serious inconvenience, not to mention a painful addition to any meal. These people have what's commonly referred to as 'sensitive teeth', and Colgate estimates that as much as half the human population deals with this issue. 

So, what causes sensitivity in our teeth, and what can we do to prevent it from causing us pain? 

The most common cause of sensitive teeth is exposed dentine.

Understanding sensitive teeth

The most common cause of sensitive teeth is exposed dentine, which is again very common. Dentine is the softer layer of tissue that sits behind and beneath the gums, usually shielded from any potentially painful food or fluids. When the gums start to recede though, this part of a tooth's root can become vulnerable to anything entering the mouth. 

Because dentine doesn't have the same strong outer layer as say, enamel, it can provide a pathway for hot, cold, sweet, sour or acidic materials to reach the delicate nerve centre. In fact, dentine is made up of thousands of miniscule channels that are connected by fluid to the inner pulp of a tooth. If irritated by certain types of food, this fluid will move, and when it pokes and prods the pulp, you'll feel that familiar sharp pain.

Cold foods are a particular irritant when it comes to sensitive teeth. Cold foods are a particular irritant when it comes to sensitive teeth.

Preventing and combating sensitivity

Fortunately, sensitive teeth is avoidable, and as always, the best way to ensure you can fearlessly eat the hottest and spiciest foods around is to take impeccable care of your oral health. Regular brushing and flossing in particular are great ways to prevent gum recession, although dental appointments are also a good idea just in case you need gum disease treatment.

According to Colgate, as many as 80 per cent of people can experience gum recession by the age of 65, so it's also important to be able to deal with any sensitivity that may occur, even if you take care of your teeth. Special toothpastes are available with a less abrasive consistency, which can make brushing far easier. In addition, there are several treatments which can add a layer of extra protection to your dentine, or even desensitise the area. Before trying these though, be sure to consult with a dental professional first to make sure it's the right option for your teeth. 

By taking a few extra steps and understanding the condition, it's a simple matter to make tooth sensitivity manageable. For more information, get in touch with City Dentists today.

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