Why are my teeth sensitive

By Dr Oh Xue Ling xueling.oh@gmail.com

Why are my teeth sensitive?

One of the most common complains patients have when they visit their dentist is for sensitive teeth. “Why are my teeth sensitive?’ , they wonder. They will usually complain of a short sharp pain upon drinking cold/hot food and drinks or when eating sweet or acidic food.

What are the causes of sensitive teeth?

Our teeth are protected by a hard outer surface called enamel. Sensitivity occurs when the inner (dentine) surface of the tooth is exposed. This can happen due to a few causes:

  1. Aggressive and overzealous brushing, wearing down the hard enamel surface over time
  2. Gum disease resulting in receding gums, exposing the root surfaces
  3. Acidic diet e.g. soft drinks, lemon, vinegar, can dissolve away the hard outer surface and expose the inner dentine surface
  4. Broken or fractured tooth
  5. Tooth decay or faulty fillings

What should I do?

A simple check up at the dentist will determine the cause of your sensitive teeth, and advise treatment options accordingly. This can be either a filling, placing a fluoride varnish over sensitive areas, or more major treatments, depending on the underlying cause of sensitivity.

How to prevent ?

  1. Use a soft toothbrush to minimise wearing down of the enamel surface.
  2. Avoid overbrushing your teeth; consult your dentist on proper brushing techniques. Use gentle strokes, avoid using too much strength while brushing.  
  3. Use products such as desensitising toothpaste or toothmousse.
  4. Regular brushing and flossing to prevent gum disease and decay.
  5. Reduce acidic food intake. Avoid brushing teeth immediately after eating acidic food and beverages.

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