Caring for your pearly whites

Caring for your pearly whites

 It is a painful reaction in the teeth triggered by hot, cold, sweet or sour food and drink. If the pain is very high in intensity, see your dentist because this may be a sign of unhealthy teeth.

Causes
Apart from a cavity or a missing filling, the most common cause of tooth sensitivity is exposed dentin on the roots of the teeth. Normally, dentin (the second and sensitive layer of the tooth) is surrounded and protected by enamel on the crown and cementum on the roots and gums. Causes of dentinal sensitivity are:
Brushing too hard: Over a period of time, brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush may wear away enamel or cementum and cause the dentin to be exposed.

Faulty brushing: Brushing sideways is not advised. The up-and-down movement is preferred.

Receding gums: Movement of gums away from the tooth, due to periodontal disease, exposes the root surface and causes sensitive teeth.
Chipped teeth: Broken teeth may fill up with bacteria from plaque and enter the pulp, causing an inflammatory reaction.
Grinding of teeth: Grinding or clenching your teeth may wear down the enamel and expose underlying dentin.

Prevention
*Maintain good oral hygiene.
*Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. This will result in less toothbrush abrasion on the tooth surface.
*Consider what you eat. If you frequently eat foods high in acids, such as citrus fruits, they may dissolve the enamel over time, leading to dentin exposure.
* Use fluoridated dental products.
*Use desensitising toothpaste. There are many available in the market. With regular use you should feel decreased sensitivity. Try spreading a thin layer of the paste on the exposed roots with your finger and leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing your mouth.

Professional care
Some of the most common treatments are:
nTooth-coloured fillings to cover exposed root surfaces.
nFluoride varnish applied to the exposed root surface.
nThe right toothpaste and correct brushing action work to remove plaque — a sticky, harmful film of bacteria that grows on your teeth and causes cavities, gum disease and eventual tooth loss, if not controlled.
If your teeth are hypersensitive, use desensitising toothpastes which contain strontium chloride or potassium nitrate. They  must be used for at least one month before any therapeutic effects are felt. Tartar-control toothpaste, containing pyrophosphates, prevent the build-up of soft (tartar) deposits on the teeth.
 
How much?
Simply squeeze a pea-sized dab of paste on the top half of your brush, contrary to what toothpaste commercials show. If you brush correctly, the paste should foam enough to cover all the teeth. Children under age 6, however, should be given a very small dab of toothpaste on their brush. Although brushing thoroughly after each meal helps, flossing your teeth every day to remove plaque and food particles between teeth and at the gum-line is important. Studies show that plaque will re-grow on teeth that are completely clean within three to four hours of brushing.
Dr Sujatha S

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