Tooth sensitivity can be a problem for many. Summer is one of those seasons many of us look forward to – brighter evenings, summer holidays – or in these Covid pandemic days, staycations, trips to the seaside and of course (usually) sunshine and warmer weather. With warmer weather often comes cooler drinks and more frozen treats such as ice lollies and ice-creams. These may be great for keeping us cool, but for many, can leave us feeling rather sensitive…
Tooth sensitivity can occur when dentine (the layer beneath the enamel which covers the outside of the teeth) becomes exposed. This can happen due to a number of reasons such as tooth decay, losing a filling, receding gums, acid erosion, tooth brushing too hard (abrasion), tooth grinding (bruxism), gum disease, trauma to a tooth (e.g. cracked) or following whitening (bleaching) treatment.
The feeling of sensitivity can range from a mild twinge which goes very quickly, to an incredibly painful ache that lasts for hours at a time. The most common sensitivity is related to dentine being exposed at the neck of teeth where gum and tooth meet – known as ‘dentine hypersensitivity’. This type of sensitivity is described in dental texts as a ‘short, sharp pain from exposed dentine in response to a stimulus (e.g. cold drink), which cannot be attributed to any other form of dental disease or condition.’ This usually happens when you eat or drink something cold, hot, sugary and/or acidic.
Ring any bells?
Sensitivity is a very common problem, and the good news is there are things you can do about it. Below are some tips from Growing Smiles on how you can reduce and manage your dentine sensitivity:
- Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth last thing at night and one other time in the day using a fluoride toothpaste designed for sensitivity (spit don’t rinse). Clean between your teeth daily BEFORE you brush.
- Use a sensitivity toothpaste – these have special ingredients designed to protect sensitive dentine. If you find this helps –keep using the paste. If you stop your sensitivity is likely to return.
- Rub sensitivity toothpaste onto the area with a clean finger a number of times each day
- Don’t brush your teeth directly after you’ve eaten – wait at least 30 minutes before brushing
- If you grind your teeth speak to your dental professional about treatment options
- Visit your dentist regularly and discuss your sensitivity with them. They will help identify the cause and can offer treatment that can help
Many ask the question – what is the best toothpaste for sensitivity? Well, there are a number of home care products available to help – depending on the cause.
Generally, for exposed dentine, the aim is to seal the dentinal tubules. In some cases this can be managed with regular use of sensitivity toothpaste. Toothpastes for sensitivity use different formulations, so you may have to try different pastes (even within a brand) to find what works best for you.
Other, more specialised products can be used alongside sensitivity toothpaste. A product such as MI Paste Plus from GC is one. This contains ‘Recaldent ACP-CPP’ and can be smeared onto the area affected with a clean finger or toothbrush, or use bleaching trays or orthodontic retainers. Ensure the tooth/teeth are as dry as possible before you apply. There is also a fluoride free option called ‘Tooth Mousse’. These products do contain casein (milk protein), so always check ingredients if you have allergies. Learn more about Recaldent ACPCPP on the product pages linked above.
For more information about sensitivity and your mouth, take Time Out For Teeth virtual one to one coaching. The key is working out why your teeth are sensitive. We want you to be able to enjoy your ice-cream this summer, without wincing with every bite. Enjoy!