Sensitive Teeth – Does it Have to be This Way?

Sensitive Teeth – Does it Have to be This Way?

Are you avoiding eating the foods and drinks you love due to sensitive teeth? We may have some insight regarding the cause of sensitive teeth, but more importantly, we have some things you can do to help!

What causes cold sensitivity?

Sensitive teeth may be caused by a few different factors with the most common being related to recession. When the gums have receded, a portion of the root is exposed. The root of the tooth has tiny tubules that are a direct link between the oral cavity and the inside of the tooth (the nerve). Normally protected by the gums, the root does not have the hard enamel coating that protects the crown of the tooth. This exposure is what causes that “zing” when you have something very cold.

Another cause of sensitivity is loss of enamel. Enamel may be lost due to grinding or clenching or also by a diet rich in acidic foods. There are a few medical conditions that may also cause lost or thinning enamel. The sensitivity works in a similar manner to root sensitivity in that the insulating coating of the tooth is compromised and no longer able to protect against cold temperatures.

New sensitivity of course, should always be assessed by a dental professional as there are other reasons besides the ones listed that may cause sensitivity. Please be sure to have an accurate diagnosis to rule out more severe problems!

What can I do about it?

  1. Sensitivity toothpastes. The first thing to try for root sensitivity is switching to a sensitivity toothpaste. Sensodyne makes a great one and Crest has a newer one as well, but our favourite is Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief. Each of the toothpastes have a different, but similar, active ingredient. The one in the Colgate toothpaste allows it to be used not just as an everyday paste for brushing, but also as a topical rub. A tiny bit on the finger rubbed into the recessive area of the tooth before bed can give almost immediate relief!
  2. Fluoride treatments at the dental office. A fluoride varnish treatment after your hygiene appointment does more than just prevent cavities – it will help to reduce sensitivity as well! The fluoride binds to the root surface and creates a barrier between what is going on outside of the tooth and the inside.
  3. Ask your dentist if a custom nightguard is right for you. Your dentist will be able to assess for a grinding or clenching habit, check your bite and determine if a night guard should be prescribed. If a nightguard is prescribed, it can potentially reduce sensitivity in areas we call wear facets on the molars of the teeth, where the enamel has worn away due to grinding.
  4. Assess your diet. Do you drink a lot of water with lemon in it? Maybe you eat citrus fruits regularly or even tomato-based food or drinks? These types of acidic foods can cause significant wear on the enamel resulting in sensitivity. Sometimes just adjusting the diet can reduce the amount of sensitivity you are experiencing.

Many solutions are available for tooth sensitivity. The first step is making that appointment to get a proper diagnosis. Make sure to mention your sensitivity to Dr Mikhail, Janet or Jess at your next appointment. We will help you come up with a solution tailored to your needs so you can finally enjoy that icecream cone!