More harm than good 4 habits making your sensitive teeth worse – how to avoid tooth pain

Dr Alex George reveals best time to brush your teeth

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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.

Speaking exclusively to Faizan Zaheer, from Bupa Dental Care explained: “One of the main reasons teeth feel sensitive is that the layer of dentine within the tooth has been exposed because the protective enamel on the tooth’s surface has been damaged.

“This commonly occurs in cases of tooth wear, broken teeth or teeth with unfilled cavities.

“Sensitivity can also occur around the neck of the tooth where the gum has receded, which tends to happen as we get older.

“The underlying dentine can become exposed as this area is not covered by hard enamel.”

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.”

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