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"I have sensitive teeth!"

The primary causes of sensitive teeth involve receding gums and damage to the protective layer of tooth enamel. Some of the common reasons this happens include:

Bad brushing
Excessive and overly vigorous brushing can wear away enamel exposing the underlying dentine. Dentine may also be exposed as a result of gum recession or gum disease.

Grinding your teeth will wear away enamel. Unfortunately some people grind their teeth unconsciously while asleep.

Acidic Diet
Acidic food and drink can cause erosion of tooth enamel, and this is often exacerbated by over-enthusiastic toothbrushing. This can expose the underlying dentine which is sensitive to hot and cold.

There are a range of 'triggers' or stimuli which can cause discomfort or pain for those with sensitive teeth. Different people have different experiences of sensitivity: some people feel discomfort or pain only with cold foods, others only with acidic foods or brushing. Common triggers include:

Cold food and drinks – eg. ice cream, ice lollies, chilled drinks and ice cubes.

Hot food and drinks – eg. soup, coffee and tea.

Sweet food –eg. sticky toffee pudding, chocolate and sweets.

Acidic foods and drinks – eg. fizzy drinks and even healthy fruit and fruit juice.

Cold air – breathing in cold air can cause discomfort for some people.

Brushing teeth – especially when followed by rinsing with cold water.

A consumer study estimates there are at least 250 million adults who suffer from sensitive teeth around the world: that’s about 40% of the population in the areas studied. So if you have sensitive teeth, you are not alone.

The study also found sensitivity is not just a problem of old age - all ages groups can have sensitive teeth. In fact, with changing diets, especially the growing popularity of snack foods and soft drinks, sensitivity is increasingly felt by younger age groups.

More women notice sensitive teeth, than men; 48% female/38% male. This may be because women brush their teeth more often and possibly more vigorously, leading to gum recession.

Good oral hygiene is important to prevent gum disease, therefore to prevent sensitive teeth. Taking care in four key areas will help you keep a healthy smile:

Professional healthcare: Regular check-ups at your dentist will catch problems before they develop. Dentists also provide the best advice about your individual needs.

Effective cleaning: Careful brushing at least twice a day should be part of everyone’s routine. Additional cleaning with floss and mouthwash, can be especially helpful in combating gum disease and the other causes of sensitive teeth.

Consider diet: Avoid sugary and acidic foods, including many fruits and fruit juices, between meals and before bed. Acidic foods and drinks with high acid content can erode the surface of your teeth and expose the tubules in your dentine, causing sensitivity.

Relieve sensitivity: Colgate sensitive has been specially formulated for sensitive teeth. Regular brushing with appropriate toothpaste, will help you to enjoy life without worrying about the return of sensitivity.

Brushing regularly, for two minutes, twice a day, is an important part of oral health care. When selecting a toothbrush to buy, look for one with a small-headed brush and a handle that’s comfortable to grip. Dentists recommend you should replace your brush every three months. Here are some tips for effective brushing:

Be gentle - Rough brushing and shaggy toothbrushes can damage tooth enamel.

Be methodical – A routine will help ensure you clean every corner of your mouth every time you brush. For example, start with the outer surfaces of your lower teeth, work from the back teeth to the front and then head to the inner surfaces. Then brush all the biting surfaces.

Pay special attention to the area where the teeth meet gums – Be especially careful to brush away plaque from the area around the gums and in the gaps between teeth. Combined with regular flossing, this will help you control plaque build-up.

Brush at an angle to the gums – Brush in a circular or elliptical fashion. Using a back and forth motion can risk making the root surface tender and wearing down the gum line.

If you have sensitive teeth, you’ll probably experience occasional discomfort or pain when eating or drinking cold, hot or acidic food, or when you brush your teeth. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and there is no reason to suffer

Sensitivity isn’t necessarily a sign of weak teeth. Nor is it necessarily a result of ageing or your inherited genes, and it doesn’t mean your teeth are about to fall out. Underneath the protective enamel coating of teeth is a highly porous layer called dentine. Once dentine becomes exposed, the nerve in the centre of the tooth becomes susceptible to stimuli and responds with a short sharp pain. The usual reason for exposed dentine is receding gums, which commonly results from over-enthusiastic brushing or gum disease.

Brushing with a sensitive toothpaste twice-daily can stop you worrying about sensitivity. People who have sensitive teeth often miss out on many of life’s pleasures unnecessarily, such as ice-cream and cold drinks.

Prevent the return of sensitive teeth
Regular brushing with a sensitive toothpaste, even when the pain of sensitive teeth has stopped, is a sure way to help prevent the return of sensitive teeth. Information in this section was taken from


We now stock a full range of Sonicare toothbrushes, call into the practice for a demonstration.