We all have experienced sensitivity at some point. It can be very annoying if you enjoy a cold drink or ice-cream.

What causes sensitivity?

Every tooth has what is called dentinal tubules. Little tiny tubes run from the outer surface of the tooth all the way to the dental pulp where there is a nerve. These tubes are filled with fluid. When there is an imbalance of fluid, the nerve gets exposed; cold stimuli cause the nerve to send pain signals to the brain.

There are many reasons for the imbalance of fluid. Most common are tooth wear and gum recession.

How do I know it is just sensitivity and it’s not something I should be worried about?

Sensitivity is usually a short, sharp pain in response to a cold stimulus. The pain only last seconds and then it goes away. If you have pain when you drink something hot, eat something sweet or bite on your tooth, or if the pain lasts long then I recommend you see your dentist.

Which toothpaste should I use for sensitivity?

The two most common sensitivity toothpastes are Sensodyne and Colgate. Sensodyne has potassium nitrates which stop the nerve from sending pain signals to the brain but it takes 2-4 weeks to work. Colgate works by blocking the tubules instantly for quick pain relief. Both actually do the job if used twice a day, consistently.

Tips and advice

Brush your teeth before breakfast or at least 30 minutes after you have had breakfast.

Spit - do not rinse.

If you brush your teeth too hard then use an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor.

Rinse with a high fluoride mouthwash at least once a day.

In acute cases, rub some sensitive toothpaste on the affected teeth last thing at night after brushing them and leave on overnight. Brush as normal in the morning.

Do not stop using your sensitive toothpaste when the sensitivity goes away.

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This page was last updated on the 9th of June 2015