10 July, 2019

What To Do When Teeth Get Sensitive?


Most people find out that they have sensitive teeth when they bite into an ice cream. If you experience pain associated with exposure to cold food or drink, it might be time to see a dentist.

Your teeth may appear normal when you look at them, but if you have worn down the hard enamel that protects your teeth, the softer dentine below the enamel becomes exposed. This can cause teeth to become sensitive and often happens where the teeth and gum meet. This is where the tooth enamel is at its thinnest.

Why are my teeth sensitive?

There are many different causes of teeth sensitivity, which can happen at any time. These can include:

  • An acidic diet with the acid in food and drinks wearing away the teeth causing dental erosion.
  • Over-enthusiastic or incorrect brushing can cause teeth sensitivity because the dentine becomes exposed.
  • Gums naturally shrinking back, exposing the roots of the teeth, which are not protected by an enamel layer.
  • Not brushing your teeth regularly can create a build-up of plaque or tartar causing the gum to recede.
  • Clenching and grinding your teeth, which can cause aching jaws, as well as wearing away your enamel, creating sensitivity.
  • A cracked tooth or a lost filling which can also cause sensitivity problems.

How does it affect your mouth?

As well as the dreaded ice cream moment, you could also feel sensitivity drinking an iced drink, cold air catching your teeth, and hot drinks and food.

Some people have sensitivity when they have sweet or acidic food and drinks. The pain can come and go with varying degrees of intensity.

What can I do to help myself?

Avoiding these trigger foods can help in the short term but can become very restrictive in the long run. It is important to keep brushing your teeth regularly – if you don’t, this could make the problem worse. Using warm water to rinse your mouth may make this more bearable.

To prevent sensitive teeth, try brushing in a circular motion twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, changing your toothbrush every two months. Try not to brush straight after eating, allow an hour before you do any brushing as some food and drinks will soften the enamel.

If you grind your teeth, you should consider wearing a mouthguard at night to prevent you from doing this.

Do I need to see my dentist?

Yes, if your sensitivity persists more than a few weeks. Your dentist will look at your symptoms and diagnose what is causing the sensitivity so it can be treated.

There are products which can be painted on by the dentist to desensitise the teeth, such as fluoride gels, varnishes and rinses. This may take several appointments to allow protection to build up. More severe cases may require a seal or filling around the sensitive area of your tooth to cover the dentine.

If your teeth are sensitive, it’s time to make an appointment with Dentistry Plus. We have five clinics across Perth with experienced dentists. Our treatments are cost effective and we’re covered with all health insurance funds.