When you have sensitive teeth, certain activities such as brushing, flossing, chewing and food contact, can cause severe pain, temporary or long term, in your teeth.
Sensitive teeth are typically the result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots. (gingival retraction). Sometimes tooth sensitivity is caused by other factors such as a cavity, a cracked or chipped tooth, or as a side effect of dental procedures, such as teeth whitening.
If you have sensitive teeth, start by visiting your dentist. He can identify or rule out any underlying causes of your tooth pain. Depending on the circumstances, your dentist might recommend:
• Desensitizing toothpaste.
• Fluoride. Your dentist might apply gels and substances containing fluoride to the sensitive areas of your teeth to protect and strengthen tooth enamel.
• Desensitizing gel trays. There will be custom made trays in which the patient will apply a special desensitization gel. These ones will be worn at home, a number of days indicated by the specialist.
• Covering exposed root surfaces. If the gums recede, teeth sensitivity occurs immediately. Your dentist might apply a sealant to cover the exposed tooth roots.
• Root canal. If your sensitive teeth cause severe pain and other treatments aren’t effective, your dentist might recommend a root canal.
To prevent sensitive teeth from recurring, your dentist might offer suggestions to help you maintain your oral health. Twice a day, brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily. Avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing, highly abrasive toothpaste, and excessive brushing and flossing. If you grind your teeth, ask your dentist about a mouth guard. Tooth grinding (bruxism) can fracture teeth and cause sensitivity.
To prevent teeth sensitivity you might also consider limiting acidic foods and drinks, such as carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, wine and yogurt — all of which can remove tooth enamel. Avoid brushing your teeth aggressively (with very abrasive toothpaste or toothbrush) and excessively. When a dental sensitivity appears, it is recommended to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a professional toothpaste with indication for this problem.