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Causes of Sensitive Teeth

2018 October 29
by Sanjay Narda

Having sensitive teeth can be very uncomfortable and can stop you from enjoying your favourite foods and drinks. It is unfortunately one of the most common dental complaints among dental patients. Some people have sensitivity all the time and some people get it once and then never again, usually from something cold.

So, what causes sensitive teeth?

Erosion of the enamel. Tooth erosion is a common causative factor of sensitive teeth. The acids in the foods and drinks we consume gradually wear away our enamel eventually exposing the underlying dentine.  The dentine is different to the hard enamel and is made up of many tiny tubules which lead straight to the living pulp inside.

Attrition of the enamel. Attrition is a type of wear caused by tooth to tooth contact. In other words, tooth grinding which is also known as bruxism. When you grind your teeth, small fragments of tooth wear away, eventually exposing the dentine underneath. Attrition is also physiological and is part of the normal ageing process, we often see signs of wear in patients who are over the age of 60.

Abrasion of the enamel. Abrasion is another type of tooth surface loss, caused by mechanical actions such as tooth brushing. If you brush your teeth too hard – particularly in a scrubbing action, you can wear away the enamel which exposes the dentine.

Gum recession. Gum recession is one of the most common causes of sensitivity. If plaque is left on the gums, they will recede and expose the softer root surface of the tooth. Another cause for gum recession is aggressive tooth brushing which wears away the thin layers of gum. This exposed root surface is not covered with enamel so will result in sensitivity with cold foods and drinks.

Leaking fillings/crowns. If you have fillings and crowns that have been there for a long time, their margins can become compromised resulting in leakage. Fluids leak down the sides and can cause sensitivity and decay.

Tooth decay. The sugars in the foods and drinks you consume, and the acids in plaque, can result in tooth decay. Tooth decay is the destruction of the tooth by a process called demineralisation. Once a small cavity is formed, it is more difficult to clean and will slowly get bigger and deeper resulting in sensitivity.

If you are suffering from tooth sensitivity, you will be pleased to know there are things we can do to help. From rebuilding lost tooth surfaces and replacing old fillings and crowns, to applying fluoride varnish, there are plenty of solutions to help you manage the pain.

If you need to book an appointment, please call us on 01844 343381 or visit our dental practice in Princes Risborough, Bucks. We are within easy reach from High Wycombe, Thame, Aylesbury and the surrounding areas.

Dr Sanjay Narda

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