For many of us, the pleasure of consuming a hot drink on a cold day or an ice cold one on a hot day, is tempered by the discomfort caused by having sensitive teeth.
This is a relatively common problem that your local Addlestone dentists see on an almost daily basis. Unlike tooth decay, it is unlikely to cause constant discomfort and occurs only in circumstances such as those just mentioned. It is still uncomfortable though and is also a potential warning sign that further trouble could lie ahead if ignored.
Although teeth that are overly sensitive can be caused by tooth decay, and this will be checked by us if you have this symptom; in many cases it is caused by the erosion of the external tooth enamel. This is the protective layer of our teeth and once it has thinned or become cracked, the more porous dentin layer beneath it allows the sensations of hot and cold to reach the nerves in our teeth much more easily.
Sensitivity can also be caused by receding gums. This tends to happen as we become older, but can also be a symptom of gum disease. As the gums recede, they expose the root part of the tooth which is less well protected and therefore more sensitive to hot and cold.
If we can keep the enamel on our teeth healthy, this will help us to avoid problems such as sensitivity, but also decay and root canal infections. It actually isn’t all that hard to do providing that accidents are avoided. Good healthy enamel care should start from a young age with diligent brushing and good oral health habits taught. For those of us too old for that though, it means having a solid brushing routine, but without exerting too much pressure as this can wear away the enamel. Acidic foods and drinks are also responsible for much enamel wear and should be kept to a minimum. Naturally, having regular checks of your teeth at the Sync Dental Centres is also essential if you want to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
What can you do if your teeth are already sensitive? The first thing that you should do is to have them examined. If the enamel is worn, there are treatment options available which we will discuss shortly. As it can be caused by decay though, or if your teeth are cracked and exposing the dentin layer, you will need to receive treatment otherwise more severe decay and possibly root canal infections may follow. If the enamel has simply thinned, you can mitigate some of the discomfort caused by this condition by making sure that you don’t eat or drink very hot or cold foods and drinks, allowing them to reach somewhere around room temperature before consuming.
There are also toothpastes available which help to relieve the discomfort. They do so either by blocking the end of the tubules in the teeth and therefore helping prevent the sensations reaching the nerves, or simply desensitising the teeth. For short term relief, you could use suitable painkillers too, but this should not be seen as a longer term solution to the problem.
If you do have sensitive teeth that are causing you distress and discomfort, there are treatment options available that can help you. If decay is the cause of it, then a filling, or possibly a crown, may be used to restore the tooth. In cases where it is caused by enamel erosion though, there are two main options available. Firstly, cosmetic bonding can be used. This can be applied directly onto areas where the enamel has cracked or chipped. It is a straightforward treatment that can prove effective. The disadvantage of this treatment is that it is not the strongest restoration available and may not last for a long time. Although it is easily repaired, it may mean a number of dental visits over time.
A longer lasting solution for sensitive front teeth, which is where it mostly occurs, are porcelain dental veneers. These, in effect, replace the damaged enamel of your teeth and provide a protective barrier against the hot and cold. Unlike bonding, this does require invasive treatment but also offers a much longer lasting solution as veneers can last in the region of ten years or more if looked after correctly.
Veneers can also be used to improve the way that your teeth look and are especially useful for badly stained teeth. They can, in some situations, also be used to correct minor orthodontic issues.
If you do have sensitive teeth, please don’t ignore the problem. We recommend that you allow our team to examine your teeth and we can then discuss your treatment options. To arrange an appointment with us, please call the Sync Dental Centres in Addlestone on 01932 856541.