25—FEB—2021 06:09 GMT
lso known as dentin hypersensitivity, it is defined as a short, sharp pain arising from exposed dentin in response to stimuli. These stimuli typically include thermal, evaporative, tactile, osmotic or chemical.
Sensitive teeth may be triggered by:
- hot and cold foods and drink
- on touch
- brushing affected surface
- eating sweet or acidic foods and drink
- cold air
Symptoms may range from mild and tolerable to intense bouts of pain. Discomfort from dentine hypersensitivity is a common finding in adult populations, with the available prevalence data ranging from 8–57%. 
Why does this occur?
The anatomy of a tooth.
Image by 2013 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
The tooth is encased in an outer enamel layer. Underneath the enamel is what is known as the dentin layer; which contains microscopic tubules and nerve endings. Because of the presence of nerve endings, dentin is able to transmit pain but enamel does not.
If your outer enamel layer is damaged and exposes the dentin (seen clinically as a light yellow porous layer of the tooth), this would cause the tooth to react to external stimuli, transmitting pain that leads to sensitive teeth.
How can the outer enamel layer get damaged?
1. By brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard toothbrush, causing abrasions to the enamel layer.
2. Tooth decay (dental caries) from eating sweets regularly and not practicing good oral hygiene.
3. Tooth surface erosion from frequent intake of acidic foods or gassy drinks.
4. Grinding your teeth at night which wears away the enamel layer.
5. Recession of your gums which exposes the dentin layer at the root of the tooth.
How can I fix this problem?
Firstly, consult your local dentist to find out the cause of your sensitive teeth. The dentist will then be able to provide the necessary treatment based on the cause.
The dentist would treat areas of enamel loss with various options such as follows:
- application of desensitizing agents
- application of fluoride
- restoring areas of enamel loss or tooth decay with fillings such as composite resin and glass ionomer restorations
- fabrication of a dental splint for patients who grind their teeth at night
- gum grafting to cover exposed root surfaces of teeth
Additionally, preventive advice will be given including the correct techniques of toothbrushing and a thorough dietary advice.
If there is a way, there is a will.
Image by Wix Free Images.
What can I do at home?
1. Use anti sensitivity toothpaste. The most common active ingredient for desensitizing toothpastes would include “potassium nitrate, stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate and strontium chloride”.
2. Change your brushing technique. Gently massage your tooth with short strokes. Apply enough pressure to feel the bristles against the gums. If you are squashing the bristles, you are brushing too hard. Use a soft toothbrush.
3, Practice good oral hygiene. This involves efficient daily plaque removal (twice a day) and flossing.
4. Practice a healthy diet. Reduce or if possible, avoid acidic foods and gassy drinks to prevent tooth erosion. Additionally, avoid sugary foods and drinks that can lead to tooth decay.
1. Dababneh, R., Khouri, A., & Addy, M. (1999). Dentine hypersensitivity — an enigma? a review of terminology, mechanisms, aetiology and management. British Dental Journal, 187(11), 606-611. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.4800345a
2. McCarthy, D. (2004). Dentine hypersensitivity: a review of the literature. Journal Of The Irish Dental Association, 50(1). Retrieved 17 January 2021, from.