Sometimes when you drink hot or cold drinks, you may experience some short, sharp pain penetrating the teeth but which disappears immediately. You may be having ‘sensitive teeth’ as many would call it. Before probing further, it is important to differentiate tooth sensitivity from toothache as the latter requires more urgent dental attention. Toothache is commonly caused by caries (also known as tooth decay) or cavity. At the early stage, the pain goes away after a short while after the hot/cold stimulant, and at the late stage, the pain becomes throbbing in nature and lingers on many hours, sometimes affecting sleep. All these responses are due to bacterial invasion of the dental pulp from the site of cavity. We advise that early intervention by seeking treatment from the dentist. Many people do not realize that the longer the delay, the greater the extent of tooth destruction, and hence more complex treatment is required.
WHY IS MY TEETH ‘SENSITIVE’
1. Over zealous hard brushing, abrading the thin surface enamel near the gingivae margin (gum line). This does not happen overnight, but over a long period of time and is worsened in presence of erosion. When the underlying dentine is exposed, one will feel sensitivity as the dentine contains small channels that communicate with the nerves in the pulp.
2. Gum recession as a result of periodontal disease can also result in exposure of the root surface of the tooth which is not covered by a layer of enamel. Dentine is exposed and may results in sensitivity.
HOW CAN I PREVENT TEETH SENSITIVITY
1. Use correct brushing technique and avoid excessive force.
2. Use a soft bristle tooth brush and massage around the gumline during brushing.
3. Use clinically proven toothpaste for sensitive teeth up to 3 times a day.
4. Avoid stimulating the sensitive areas for 1-2 weeks.
When treated at early stage, the symptoms of sensitivity should generally resolve within 1-2 weeks. If the sensitivity persists, you are advised to seek a consultation with a dentist to determine the root cause and an appropriate treatment plan will be proposed to you.