Does eating an ice cream or drinking a glass of cold water make you wince? Tooth sensitivity is a common source of discomfort among adults. Thankfully, you don’t have to put up with the pain because there are things you can do to minimise this painful sensation at home. Here is a list of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity with tips on what you can do to minimise the pain.

  1. You brush with tooth-whitening toothpaste: some people experience greater sensitivity to the tooth-whitening chemicals found in this kind of toothpaste, which can cause discomfort. Switch to an ordinary fluoride toothpaste instead.
  1. You have a cracked tooth: a damaged tooth can cause sensitivity or pain. It is important to consult with your dentist to discuss treatment options.
  1. You brush too forcefully: brushing your teeth with too much pressure can wear away the enamel, exposing the soft dentin underneath. Try to brush more gently or with a toothbrush with softer bristles.
  1. Your mouthwash is to blame: some mouthwashes contain alcohol or other chemicals that can aggravate sensitive teeth. Opt for fluoride neutral mouthwashes instead.
  1. You grind your teeth at night: sufferers of Bruxism (the grinding, clenching or gnashing of the teeth most commonly during sleep) can experience a wearing down of the enamel on their teeth. This again exposes the dentin, which leads directly to the nerves, where tooth sensitivity originates. Your dentist will discuss the possibility of using a mouthguard in the night to protect your teeth.
  1. You suffer from gum disease: gum disease results in the recession of gums, which is a common cause of tooth sensitivity. There are dental procedures that can treat gum disease as well as changes in oral health habits such as careful brushing and flossing that can assist.
  1. You eat acidic foods: If the dentin of your tooth is already exposed, which leads directly to your nerves, acidic foods that come into contact with this part of your tooth can cause pain. Try to avoid foods such as citrus fruits, pickles and tomato sauce.
  1. You have a build up of plaque: excessive plaque can cause tooth enamel to wear away and once this occurs, your teeth become sensitive. Maintaining good oral hygiene habits as well as visiting your dentist for regular cleanings will assist in removing plaque.
  1. You have tooth decay: the bacteria that are present in tooth decay produce acid, which accelerates the breakdown of enamel. It is very important that you see your dentist if you suspect you have decay in your teeth.
  1. You have had a recent dental procedure: it is normal to experience increased tooth sensitivity after a dental procedure or visit to the dentist. This is nothing to be concerned about unless the sensitivity does not disappear on its own.