My dad use to tell me and my sisters when I was very much younger that if we drank cold drink or had cold food and had pain in our teeth, it is a sign of tooth sensitivity. Never paid much attention then to what he said although he was fixing our teeth cavities with those dental fillings.
Anyway what dad said was so true as according to a study recently, 20% of Malaysians experience pain when they eat something hot or cold. This study also says that sensitivity as a problem has the second highest incidence among Malaysians.
The latest findings indicate that 46 per cent of cases suffering from sensitivity belong to the age group 30-40.
The study also says that it is estimated that 50-90 per cent of people brush their teeth with too much pressure.
Sensitivity of teeth occurs with the passing of age and time, with years of brushing, significant tooth tissue as well as gum tissue get removed, exposing the inner portion of the tooth and the roots.
Anyway what is sensitivity of teeth?
Our teeth are made up of three layers. The outermost layer which covers the upper half of the tooth is called enamel and the layer which covers the root section of the tooth is called cementum. The layer beneath these is called dentine. This is not as mineralised and is less dense than the outer layers and, more important, it contains thin tubes which connect it to the soft portion of the tooth which contains nerve endings. Dental sensitivity is a condition that arises when this inner layer called dentine is exposed.
If a taste of ice cream or a sip of coffee is sometimes painful or if brushing or flossing makes us wince occasionally, we may be suffering from sensitive teeth. Sharp or shooting pain caused while eating hot or cold, sweet or sour food is the most common symptom of tooth sensitivity. When hot or cold foods and liquids come into contact with the root surfaces, they may stimulate the nerves, causing us to feel pain.
So how to get relief? It is suggested that using a desensitising toothpaste which contains compounds can help block sensation travelling from the tooth surface to the nerve.
Since some sensitive toothpastes are available in a mint flavour as well, they can be used as ‘regular’ toothpastes.
If the desensitising toothpaste does not relieve pain, then normally some dentist will suggest a fluoride gel or special desensitising agents that may be applied to sensitive areas of the affected teeth.
When even these measures do not correct the problem, I know my dad would quickly do a filling as he would have definatly found a cavity somewhere in between our molars.