Patients often say to me their teeth are so sensitive that getting a professional clean is something they look forward to, but also dread. Common questions asked are “Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?”, and “Can You Do Something To Make My Dental Hygiene Experience More Comfortable?”
To answer the above questions we first need to understand why our teeth become more sensitive over time.
If you think of enamel as a hard shell that protects your teeth, then dentine is a softer layer underneath the harder enamel. Dentine contains tiny holes or tubules through which acid and sugars can reach the sensitive nerve of the tooth.
In our lifetime foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, energy drinks, sports drinks can gradually erode tooth enamel to expose the dentine layer, with all its expressway tubules to the tooth nerve … OUCH!
Another reason for tooth hypersensitivity is mechanical wear to the enamel itself, caused by heavy handed brushing (or using a hard bristle toothbrush). And yes, we’re all guilty of overzealous brushing - especially when we’re in a hurry!
Over enthusiastic brushing can also cause receding gums, and expose sensitive areas of the tooth such as a tooth root. Since the root of the tooth is not protected by hard enamel this exposed area can become very sensitive and uncomfortable.
Gums also recede as a result of gum disease.
The best way to prevent gum disease is to consistently practise good oral hygiene. Regular hygienist visits along with a personalised home care plan can help keep your whole mouth healthy for longer. Improvements in dental hygiene mean more of us keep our natural teeth into old age .
Can we prevent tooth sensitivity or help reduce the symptoms?
Yes absolutely. To start with, always use a soft manual toothbrush and I recommend gentle care sensitive electric toothbrush heads. Diet also plays an important role – reduce your intake of acidic foods.
To find out more about tooth sensitivity you can now book a special 30 minute consultation with me that includes assessment to establish the cause of your enamel hypersensitivity, a saliva pH test and a customised care plan to help reduce your discomfort.
As part of my special focus on tooth sensitivity this month - quote “Tooth Sensitivity” to Sharla when you book your routine hygiene scale and polish - I will then include a sensitivity assessment at no extra cost. (valid till end of March 2014).
I look forward to meeting more of you .
Marize Jones BHSc OH Accent Dental Hygienist