How to protect against the discomfort of sensitive teeth, plus treatment for those who already have them.
When we think about painful teeth, we probably mostly think about tooth decay and the toothache often associated with it. Without a doubt, this can be excruciatingly painful but it is generally short lived as most patients will contact the Cygnet Dental Practice to have it treated, whether through a filling or in some cases where the tooth cannot be saved, extraction.
For one group of people though, a more persistent tooth pain is common and that is in those with sensitive teeth.
Tooth sensitivity varies in degrees as to how painful it is. For some, it is a relatively light discomfort where they are simply more aware when they eat or drink something very hot or cold. For others though, the same experience can produce sharp pains that cause them to wince in pain. Although this isn’t the persistent pain of a toothache, it can be very painful indeed and many people will avoid extremes of temperatures to avoid it. Even those with relatively minor discomfort with this problem should probably take that as a warning sign of worse to come.
Healthy tooth enamel
So why do some people have sensitive teeth whilst others don’t? The answer lies in the enamel on the teeth. People with healthy enamel are more resistant to pain caused in this way as it protects the underlying layers from the heat and cold. The problem arises when the enamel has either been damaged, perhaps through a crack or a chip, or equally often, eroded, causing it to become thinner.
The key to avoiding sensitivity is to look after the enamel on your teeth. This obviously means making sure that you brush, floss and see your dentist and hygienist at our Wickford dental clinic on a regular and ongoing basis. In between these appointments, there are some things that you can do, other than brushing and flossing, to help keep your tooth enamel healthy.
- When you brush your teeth, make sure that you don’t apply too much pressure. A gentle circular motion is all that is needed. The problem with putting too much pressure on is that this will gradually wear away the enamel causing it to thin. Some electric toothbrushes now have pressure sensors that allow them to cut out if too much pressure is applied. This could prove to be a good investment.
- The second thing is to be careful about what you eat and drink. A diet high in acidic foods will gradually erode the dental enamel. These can even be healthy foods such as citric fruits but include a wide range of food and drinks. The following are some of the ones to avoid or at least limit your intake of:
- Acidic fruits and even some vegetables such as tomatoes. Eat these in moderation
- Sweets and even dried fruits as these contain high levels of sugars and are prone to stick to the teeth for a long period of time
- Wine, whether red or white is quite acidic and potentially damaging to your teeth
- Soft drinks, and especially those labelled as ‘sports drinks’. These are highly acidic and are perhaps one of the worst culprits when it comes to enamel erosion
There can be other factors such as medication and eating disorders. The latter causes the teeth to come into contact with stomach acid where vomiting is common, This is quite a strong acid and many people with bulimia especially, often have poor teeth as well.