Teeth sensitivity is the pits. You can’t enjoy ice cream or a bowl of pumpkin soup with flashes of pain in your mouth and even brushing your teeth can be a delicate game. If you’re wondering why your pearly whites are feeling like this in the first place (and how to relieve the pressure on them), read this guide.

What is tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity — also known as dentine hypersensitivity — affects the tooth via exposed root surfaces,” says Dr Susan Cartwright, Colgate Scientific Affairs Manager. “This occurs when the enamel that protects the teeth wears away or when gums recede, exposing the underlying surface. This reduces the protection the enamel and gums provide to the tooth and root, meaning that the teeth can become sensitive.”

What causes it?

The most common reason behind it is when your tooth enamel becomes worn. “This can occur because of vigorous brushing, consuming a highly acidic food and drinks and as a result of gum recession or periodontal disease,” says Dr Cartwright.

How can I help it?

Dr Cartwright says it comes down to a few things: changing your brushing style or toothbrush, using the right toothpaste and finishing your morning and night with a fluoride mouthwash.

Change your brushing style and toothbrush

Don’t assume that the harder your brush, the cleaner your teeth will be. “Brushing vigorously and with an older toothbrush causes your gums to pull away exposing the sensitive nerve in each of your teeth. To combat this, brush twice daily for two minutes, using a gentle up and down motion and remember to update your toothbrush every three months.

Get the right toothpaste

If you’re not already using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth, get on it. They can help form a protective layer against pain and provide relief.

Use mouthwash

“Fluoride is great treatment for strengthening the dentin and enamel in your teeth,” says Dr Cartwright. “Finishing your brushing routine day and night with a high strength fluoride mouth wash to help keep your teeth and gums in top condition.”

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