Sensitive teeth can occur for a number of reasons, but most often occur when the protective enamel on a tooth’s surface has been exposed. Most people may begin to notice sensitivity when eating certain foods or drinks, such as cold, sour or sweet things. This can cause make you wince from time to time or even cause real pain in extreme circumstances.
Patients in the process of having a procedure within their mouth or those with a temporary filling or crown may also experience temporary sensitivity.
Regardless of the immediate cause of your tooth sensitivity, however, there are some common habits which can increase your risk of painful teeth, or worsen ongoing sensitivity.
Certain food and drinks
Mr Zaheer explained: “Try avoiding acidic food and drink, such as fizzy drinks, sweets, and refined carbs, which can erode your enamel, causing dentine to become exposed.”
As well as avoiding certain foods, there are some snacks which Mr Zaheer dubs “teeth-friendly”.
He said: “Cheese, milk, non-citrus fruit, and vegetables, will help counteract the effects of acid in your mouth and reduce the risk of healthy tooth tissue from being eroded away.”
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Over-brushing your teeth
While dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, too much of a good thing can actually end up having an undesirable effect on your pearly whites.
Mr Zaheer explained: “Overbrushing can also do more harm than good as, over time, you risk causing gum recession which can expose the underlying roots of your teeth, which are naturally more sensitive.
“Instead, brush in circular motions, preferably using an electric toothbrush for two minutes twice a day.
“It is a fine balance between brushing thoroughly and brushing too hard.”
Grinding your teeth
Grinding teeth is a habit that often occurs at night, and many people don’t even realise they are doing it.
In some cases, it is linked to stress and anxiety, or even sleep apnoea.
Mr Zaheer explained: “Those who grind their teeth can wear away enamel or even the whole tooth, so it’s important to address the problem, for example, if it’s stress-related you should seek advice from your dentist who can suggest a suitable solution, like a bite guard to wear at night.”
Teeth whitening treatments
While you might be chasing a Hollywood smile, some teeth whitening treatments can result in tooth sensitivity.
Mr Zaheer recommends speaking to a dentist before pursuing any at-home or alternative teeth whitening remedies.
What to do if you have sensitive teeth
As summer approaches, those with sensitive teeth might find themselves missing out on cold drinks and ice cream, but there are some ways to help ease the pain.
Mr Zaheer recommends paying your dentist a visit to get advice on which toothpaste to use and consider a dental sealant, fluoride gel, or desensitising paste.
They may also be able to check for cracked, loose or leaking fillings, which may be contributing to the sensitivity.
He added: “You shouldn’t ignore the underlying causes of tooth sensitivity.
“Instead, if you experience discomfort, visit your dentist to treat and prevent the cause.”