What is tooth sensitivity and how to care for sensitive teeth?

Qu’est-ce que la sensibilité dentaire et comment prendre soin de ses dents sensibles ?

Many people suffer from tooth sensitivity. The pain that shoots through the jaw like a bolt of lightning at a moment's notice can ruin the best of times.

How can you tell if you have sensitive teeth?

A sip of cold lemonade, a sweet candy, a spoonful of hot soup or a bite into a sour apple, and the sharp pain comes. The pain is so uncomfortable that you don't dare put anything in your mouth.

Be aware that tooth sensitivity is not defined as a dental disease. Rather, it is a symptom that should be taken seriously and corrected as soon as possible.

Tooth sensitivity occurs when certain external stimuli trigger a violent, usually searing pain that does not subside.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

Several factors can be responsible for your dental sensitivity, it is then necessary to identify the main cause to be able to act effectively against this hypersensitivity.


1. Your enamel is weakened:

The upper, exposed part of the tooth (the part visible above the gum) is covered with a kind of hard protective cap containing minerals. This tooth enamel, which is the hardest part of our body, protects the softer dentin underneath and all the nerves, blood vessels and fibers that are located in the dental pulp.

So when your enamel is damaged, it makes your teeth more exposed and therefore more sensitive to external stimuli such as :

- Hot and cold food and drinks;

- Sweet, salty and sour foods;

- Brushing your teeth;

- Cold air entering the mouth.


2. You have receding gums:

The most common cause of tooth hypersensitivity is gum disease, also known as recession, caused by poor oral hygiene. In most cases, it is not the frequency that matters, but rather the poor cleaning technique.

Rough brushing with horizontal strokes literally sensitizes the tooth enamel and gum tissue.

If you use this incorrect brushing technique over a long period of time, not only will the gum tissue erode, but also your entire enamel. Tiny canals open up in the less protected dentin area around the neck of the tooth, which increases sensitivity.

Gum recession can also be caused by specific dental diseases, misalignment of the teeth or hormonal changes (in pregnant women for example).

Gum recession is an insidious problem: at the beginning, it is extremely difficult to see that this phenomenon is slow. It is only with time that the symptoms become apparent and should be reported to your dentist immediately.


3. Other causes of tooth sensitivity:

Tooth sensitivity to pain is not only caused by enamel abrasion or excessive friction when brushing the teeth.

The following factors are also responsible for tooth sensitivity:

- Excessive mouthwash;
- Toothpastes or treatments that are too chemical;
- Rubbing of teeth against each other;
- Cavities;
- Excessive acidic foods and drinks...

How to avoid pain or treat dental hypersensitivity?

Know that there are ways to protect your teeth and to rebuild your gums. Here are some tips for you if you suffer from tooth sensitivity:



- Take regular prophylaxis:

Frequent receding gums are the result of periodontitis. The chronic inflammation spreads from the teeth to the gums and attacks the tissue.

Only periodontal treatment and regular prophylactic appointments at short intervals can help fight the inflammation. If necessary, gum grafts are available.

- Treating teeth grinding:

When you grind your teeth at night, you put enormous pressure on your teeth and gums. In the long run, the surfaces of the teeth are worn away. The gums are not spared either.

Therefore, you should protect your teeth from further damage with a splint. This also protects the gums, because the splint acts as a shock absorber. In the long run, however, you should work on the root causes of nighttime teeth grinding. It usually makes sense to address the topic of stress management.

- Change your tooth brushing technique:

Many believe that brushing hard and vigorously can make teeth cleaner. However, this is not true. By pressing hard with the brush head, you damage the gums. Instead, it's best to brush with gentle pressure from the gums toward the tooth. There are also special electric toothbrushes that emit a warning signal when you press too hard on the brush.

- Use the right toothpaste:

You should only clean your teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride. This generally applies to everyone - but especially to people with sensitive teeth. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and makes it more resistant to the acids in food and drinks.

Do not use whitening toothpastes under any circumstances, as they usually contain a lot of abrasive substances and make the tooth enamel rough.

Finally, you should limit your consumption of acidic foods and drinks as well as extreme temperatures.