Managing And Treating Sensitive Teeth

Worn down tooth enamel can lead to this uncomfortable condition.

Dental painHave you ever winced in pain or discomfort when you have had a sip of a very hot or cold drink, or even found that breathing through the mouth on a frosty day causes your teeth to feel really uncomfortable? If you have, you will know how unpleasant having sensitive teeth can be.

This condition can be caused by a number of things including a cracked or broken tooth.

Probably more commonly though, it is caused by worn enamel which exposes the more sensitive dentin layer beneath it. Our Greenwich dentists take a look at some of the causes of this problem and how it can be managed and treated.

What causes enamel wear?

There are two main causes of worn enamel. The first is from friction between the teeth and the second is largely diet related.

Tooth grinding, or bruxism, is a well known cause of enamel damage. The grinding together of teeth will wear the enamel away and may even cause cracks to appear or even breakage of the teeth in more extreme cases. This can be difficult to overcome as most teeth grinding takes place when we sleep and may be related to stress. Dealing with the root cause is essential and the Confidental Clinic can help you to restore your teeth once the issue is resolved.

More commonly, enamel erosion is caused by eating or drinking the ‘wrong’ kinds of food and drink. This particularly applies to acidic foods and drinks that damage the enamel. One of the worst offenders for this are high sugar sports drinks, although even putting lemon juice in your water can have this affect as well if taken to excess. Changing your diet to minimise these foods and drinks is the best way to keep your enamel healthy, as long as you brush and floss as well too of course.

Managing sensitive teeth

If your teeth feel sensitive, the best thing that you can do is to avoid eating food or drinking drinks that are either very hot or very cold. Allow your food to reach somewhere around room temperature before you eat or drink it. This will help to minimise your discomfort.

There are also toothpastes available which are designed for people who suffer from tooth sensitivity. Some of these work by blocking up the dentinal tubules which have been exposed and which lead to the nerves, whilst others desensitise the nerve endings within them. Either way, these can help to reduce your discomfort and are certainly worth trying.

Treating sensitive teeth

Although you can minimise the impact of the damage using the methods above, some of our Greenwich patients may prefer to have the teeth treated to avoid the need for these measures and also allow them to eat and drink without worrying if it will be painful or not. The first step is to make sure that you are looking after your teeth correctly. We recommend seeing our dental hygienist for a thorough clean and a discussion on the best way to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

As far as restorative treatments go, this will depend upon the nature of the damage. Where there is a cavity, it will need to be filled. Likewise, where damage is more extensive, perhaps a breakage caused by teeth grinding, we may need to use a dental crown or other techniques to restore the tooth.

Where the damage has been caused by diet, it is likely that the exposed front surface of the teeth will have been most greatly affected. As there is currently no treatment available to reverse the process, it may become necessary to replace the enamel instead, typically done using teeth veneers. In most cases a dental burr will be used to ‘shave’ off a fine layer from the front surface of the tooth. We will then take impressions of the prepared teeth before we fit temporary veneers to protect them. The procedure will be carried out using local anaesthetic to minimise any discomfort.

The impressions that have been taken are then sent to a dental laboratory for your new veneers to be produced; this usually takes a week or so and you will be recalled to our practice when they are ready. Once they are here, we will remove your temporary veneers and fit your permanent ones, finally trimming and polishing them so that they look natural. Dental veneers can last for around ten years or more if you take good care of them, before they will need to be replaced.

It is important to remember that whilst porcelain can’t decay, the natural part of your tooth can and neglect may lead to the need for treatment which could leave the veneer less securely fitted. So please make sure to look after the whole tooth when you brush and floss.

If you have sensitive teeth that cause you problems, please don’t suffer in silence; our local dental team is here to help you eat and drink comfortably. We can discuss management and treatment options with you so you can make an informed choice about the best way forward for your treatment.

To arrange an appointment to see a dentist at the Confidental Clinic, please call our reception team on 020 8858 1422.