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What is tooth sensitivity?

Sensitive teeth affect a large portion of the population. It can present as sensitivity when eating or drinking something hot, cold or acidic.

The second layer of the tooth tissue, the dentine is covered by a hard outer shell, the enamel. If the enamel is worn down and the dentine is exposed then the connections between the dentine and the nerve tissue is stimulated and sensitivity can result.

Why do I get sensitive teeth?

1. Brushing too heavily.

Never use excess force when brushing. An electric toothbrush is recommended. Allow the toothbrush to do the job, not your muscles!

Brushing with a hard toothbrush and using excess force can wear down the dentine and cause tooth sensitivity.

2. Brushing following the intake of acidic food and drinks.

Avoid brushing for at least one hour following acidic food or drink intake.

The acids in the diet can “soften” the tooth tissue leading to more tooth loss following tooth brushing and resulting in sensitivity

3. High intake of acidic foods & beverages

Foods and beverages with high acidic content include tomato products, citrus fruits, pickles, tea, sports drinks, and carbonated drinks. These foods and beverages increase erosion of the enamel and exposure of dentin, and contribute to greater tooth sensitivity. Carbonated drinks are unhealthy in general, and should be eliminated from the diet. Following consumption of citric fruit and other healthy but acidic foods, it’s advisable to counteract the acidic effects with cheese, bananas, milk and other foods low in acidic content.

4. Grinding and/or clenching teeth

Over time, grinding and or clenching your teeth can wear down the enamel, exposing the dentin and nerves, resulting in sensitive teeth. These habits are often subconscious and take place during sleep. A night guard made by your dentist can prevent such damage.


Please contact us for more information. 

5. Gum recession

Gingivitis and periodontal disease, also known as gum inflammation and disease respectively, lead to the gum layer receding away from the teeth. Both of these mean increased exposure of the sensitive roots. These roots carry temperature and pressure changes to the nerve centre. Therefore people with receeding gums can have sensitive teeth.

At Hinterland dental, the dentists and hygienist can educate you in how to prevent gum disease and inflammation and with regular hygiene appointments treat such diseases.

6. Cracked or decayed teeth

Cracked or broken teeth mean that the nerve centre is more exposed, resulting in pain when you chew or when exposed to hot or cold food and drinks. These cracks, if left untreated, become filled with bacteria from plaque and cause inflammation in the nerve centre. Bacterial accumulation also leads to build up of acid and wearing down of the enamel layer. Cavities and decaying teeth expose the dentin layer as well as the roots of your teeth.

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