Brushing your teeth too hard is a common cause of abrasion. If you scrub your teeth clean using excessive sawing forces then you may cause abrasion on the neck of your tooth.
By altering your toothbrushing technique or changing to one of our recommended electric toothbrushes you can prevent any more abrasion.
Erosion occurs due to the action of extrinsic acid on the enamel surface of your tooth. The acid comes from food or drinks in your diet such as carbonated fizzy drinks, acidic fruit and fruit juices such as lemons, oranges, limes and grapefruits, wines and excessive vinegar consumption.
There are also medical conditions and eating disorders that can have an erosive effect on the tooth enamel such as bulimia, reflux oesophagitis, hiatus hernia, stomach ulcers and some chemotherapy treatments for cancer.
Abfractions are small notches caused by stress forces on your teeth. Biting, chewing, clenching and grinding can all put pressure on to your teeth. Over time, this pressure can cause crack and splits in the outer layer of your teeth. This occurs in the thinnest part of your enamel, near the gumline. People who grind their teeth are more likely to get abfraction lesions.
Attrition is the loss of enamel specifically from the biting surfaces of the teeth and can be caused by any of the following; normal wear and tear of chewing, occlusion of natural teeth onto ceramic restorations such as crowns and bridges, bruxing – the abnormal and often subconscious action of clenching and grinding teeth.
What can cause the sensitivity I am suffering from?? There are several causes of sensitivity and it may be one or more causing your sensitivity. Your sensitivity may be on one tooth, several teeth or even all of your teeth. The outer surface of the tooth is made of enamel and it protects the softer dentine layer underneath. If the dentine becomes exposed then it can become sensitive. The most common place for this to happen is where the tooth and gum meet and the enamel layer is much thinner.
Causes of sensitivity can be any of the following;
- Toothbrush abrasion Brushing too hard or from side to side can make the enamel wear away on your tooth. This will allow the dentine to become exposed causing sensitivity.
- Erosion You can lose enamel by attacks of acid from acidic foods and drinks such as fruit juice.
- Gum recession Gums can naturally recede (shrink back) over time and expose the root surface. Root surfaces do not have an enamel layer to protect them so can become sensitive.
- Gum disease A build up of plaque or calculus (hardened plaque) can cause the gum to recede also. It can even destroy the bony support of the tooth. The problem can be made worse by pockets forming in the gums around the tooth making it quite difficult to keep clean.
- Tooth grinding Clenching and grinding your teeth together can cause the enamel to wear away.
- Cracked tooth or filling A crack can run from the bite surface of the tooth down to the root. If a filling is breaking down this would also cause sensitivity. Discomfort is usually caused by extreme temperatures.
- Tooth whitening As a bleach solution is used to whiten your teeth you may find you suffer from more sensitivity but this usually subsides after treatment.
- Nerves If the nerve is dying off in your tooth then this can cause sensitivity as well as other symptoms.
What can I do to treat my sensitivity?? If the cause of your sensitivity is due to exposed dentine then normally we would suggest using toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth. (Please see our display cabinet for the types that we recommend) Use the sensitive toothpaste twice daily as part of your normal brushing routine and then rub a small amount of the toothpaste onto the areas that are sensitive for at least a minute.
However, if you do not see an improvement after several weeks then we can always apply a de-sensitising solution onto the sensitive areas which may help. We can also apply fluoride gels and varnishes on to your teeth to help fill in some of the dentine tubules that are exposed.
Sensitivity can take a few days, a few weeks or even a few months to settle so be patient. If none of the above treatments seem to ease the sensitivity then we can also cover the exposed dentine normally with a tooth coloured filling.
If you occasionally suffer from sensitivity then try avoiding hot, cold, sweet or acidic drinks and food when you are suffering. Foods such as ice cream can increase sensitivity. If you suffer from sensitivity when brushing your teeth then try using warm water to clean them.
What can I do to prevent sensitivity?? Good oral hygiene, brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft to medium toothbrush using small circular motions. Try eating sugary foods and drinks less often or try having them at meal times only.
If you are grinding or clenching your teeth and this is causing your sensitivity then we may need to make you a splint, probably just to wear at night.
If you find you are more sensitive when whitening your teeth then try putting sensitive toothpaste into your whitening trays and placing in your mouth for 30 minutes, rinse your trays and then whiten as normal.
Keep your appointments with us regular. We normally
recommend you see the dentist every 6 months and the hygienist every 3 months so we can keep an eye on you and notice any changes as they first begin to happen.