This is an extremely common condition that affects about 15% of the population. Is is characterised by short, sharp pain from areas of exposed dentine. This is where the the enamel has been worn away or areas of exposed root which would normally be covered by the gum. The pain can be stimulated by a range of factors including cold, heat, touch and acid. The problem is often associated with areas of gum recession but can also be triggered by tooth grinding or cracked teeth. These areas may be caused by gum disease or brushing with excessive force. The pain itself is thought to be caused by the movement of fluid in the dentine tubules which sets off the nerve endings in the pulp.
Can it be prevented?
It is important to eliminate any risk factors:
- Brushing with excessive force or with a hard bristled brush
- Exposure to acidic agents in the diet or from vomiting or gastric reflux.
- Effectively treating gum disease.
Using a soft brush with a standard toothpaste two hours after exposure to any acidic agents helps reduce loss of enamel. A detailed dietary history will help to identify problem areas such as : fizzy drinks, wine, yogurts, citrus fruits and smoothies. Conditions such as gastric reflux and eating disorders should be addressed by a doctor.
How to treat Dentine Hypersensitivity?
Sensitivity toothpastes such as Sensodyne and Colgate Sensitivity contain Potassium salts, Fluoride and Strontium which help block the tubules and reduce sensitivity. These toothpastes can offer good shoes term relief. They can be applied topically to treat acute episodes of pain. It is important not to rinse after using them. I sensitivity persists more than a month it is worth attending a dentist to have a topical gel placed on the areas. These can offer longer lasting relief.