There's Help For Sensitive Teeth: What Helps a Toothache?

Woman eating ice cream

Are you one of many South Africans who bypasses the ice water at a restaurant or lets your mug of coffee cool down before you take a sip because you know it will make your teeth hurt? Or do you have to be extra tender when you brush, floss or chew?

You may have sensitive teeth, one of the most common oral health complaints by patients. But there are a variety of strategies you can use that can bring back your smile.

Sensitivity generally occurs when a tooth's dentin is exposed to heat, cold or acidity. Normally the sensitive dentin is protected by the bony enamel above the gum line and the cementum below the gums. However, if these protective coverings are damaged or worn away, the result can be hypersensitivity and occasional discomfort.

It is recommended that you discuss sensitivity with your dentist. Cavities, fractured teeth, periodontal disease and exposed tooth roots can cause sensitivity. Tooth bleaching can also cause temporary sensitivity.

Your dentist can review proper oral hygiene techniques with you, since over-brushing or poor oral hygiene can also lead to or aggravate sensitive teeth.

Regular use of desensitizing toothpaste can help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. Desensitizing toothpaste usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.

If the desensitizing toothpaste does not ease your discomfort, your dentist may suggest in-office techniques. A fluoride gel, which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations, may be applied to the sensitive areas of the teeth.

If receding gums cause the sensitivity, your dentist may use agents that bond to the tooth root to "seal" the sensitive teeth. The sealer usually is composed of a plastic material.

Some sensitive teeth that don't respond to other treatments might need root canal treatment to eliminate the problem.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel that protects our teeth gets thinner, or when gum recession occurs, exposing the underlying surface, the dentin, thus, reducing the protection the enamel and gums provide to the tooth and root.

Signs & Symptoms
If hot, cold, sweet or very acidic foods and drinks, or breathing in cold air, makes your teeth or a tooth sensitive or painful, then you may have sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity can come and go over time.

Is Tooth Sensitivity Cramping Your Style?

Tooth sensitivity can make eating and drinking a painful experience. Try one of our sensitivity relief products that, with continued use, can help prevent future occurrences.