Teeth Sensitivity: 
Identification, Treatment and Prevention

What do cups of coffee, steaming hot meals and ice cold bottles of water have in common? They each have the potential to trigger a painful reaction in our teeth and gums. 


When we experience teeth sensitivity, often our first thoughts are to identify what food or drink could be causing the problem and focus on eliminating that from our diet, as opposed to investigating the root cause. Unless we’re aware of dental sensitivity and oral care, we’re more likely to change our eating habits than our oral healthcare routine. 


The truth is, teeth sensitivity can point to a bigger problem that needs immediate action and, in some cases, the help of your dentist. Even if the pain goes away for a while, an iceberg of issues can remain, continuing to do damage to your teeth and gums. 

Identify: Why Does Tooth Sensitivity Occur?


Also known as dentine hypersensitivity, tooth sensitivity begins within the ‘dentin’ - the sensitive layer and network of fluid-moving tubes that lies just beneath your enamel. If it becomes exposed, it can come into contact with foods, drinks, acids, sugars and plaque – things that no dentin should ever meet.  Ordinarily encased by a hard enamel shell, the protected dentin in turn surrounds the dental pulp – the home of essential nerves and blood vessels.


When your tooth’s enamel shell is attacked and worn away by plaque and debris, dental sensitivity becomes an inevitable and miserable experience. Even cold air touching your teeth can set it off!

Fast Fact: Enamel can be worn away by anything from excessive plaque, jaw grinding, abrasive whitening toothpaste, acidic mouth washes and bad fillings, to more serious conditions like gum disease. Talk to your dentist to find out what the main culprit is in your case. 

Treat: What Can I Do to Manage Tooth Sensitivity?


We all want healthy and pain-free teeth, but before you start attacking your pearly whites with well-intentioned gusto, check you’re using the correct brushing technique and tools for the job. Follow these five steps to get your teeth back into shape while treating your tooth sensitivity at the same time:

1. Go Softly gums are fragile, shrinking back when they’re assaulted by high pressure brushing, exposing the porous dentine. Plaque itself is quite soft, so you shouldn’t need to press very hard to eliminate it from the gum line. The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum electric toothbrush features a unique, intuitive Pressure Sensor to help reduce aggressive brushing. The handle gently vibrates to let you know when you’re applying too much pressure.

2. Take Aim plaque likes to hide in the dips and rivets of our gums, supported by the same structure that secures our teeth. Left unaddressed, it can develop into gingivitis and gum disease.  

3. Make a Change Philips Sonicare toothbrushes remove up to 7x more plaque than manual toothbrushes, treating your teeth and gums to 31,000 gentle brush movements a minute. In fact, your Philips Sonicare delivers more brush strokes in two minutes than a manual brush could in a month! Learn more about the differences between manual and electric brushes.


4. Be Kind specialised toothpastes like Sensodyne , plus rinses and gels may alleviate mild symptoms, blocking dentin pores and controlling sensation.


5. Diagnose ASAP book an appointment with your dentist to make sure you correctly identify and treat the root cause of the problem.

Fast Fact: 1 in 8 adults suffer from dental sensitivity in some point in their lives. 

Prevent: Eating for Pain-Free Teeth


A whiter, brighter smile is just one of the reasons you should re-think the following food types. While cutting them out entirely may be difficult, restricting your intake to special occasions will do wonders for your overall health.


1. Soft Drinks - fizzy drinks fix contain phosphoric and citric acids that damage enamel.


2. Sticky Foods - hard candy, liquorice and dried fruit stick to the side of your teeth, breaking down enamel integrity and attacking the dentin over time.


3. Starchy Carbs - chips, pasta, breads and crackers satisfy the appetite of dental bacteria, breaking down into simple sugars.


4. Juices - store bought juice is no better for your teeth and gums than consuming the same amount of bubbly lemonade.


5. Citrus Fruits - citric acids can have a very negative impact on your teeth and gums when consistently present in the mouth.


As well as avoiding problem foods, you can help keep tooth sensitivity at bay by chewing sugar-free gum in between meals - it promotes saliva flow which in turn helps to control plaque build-up.


Fast Fact: All food and drink can cause tooth decay, gingivitis and gum disease if left to fester and develop into plaque - even fruits and vegetables!


Healthy teeth and gums start with taking two minutes, twice a day to remove food and drink debris, using the right brush technology. Teeth sensitivity can be managed and further prevented by using a Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush - the sonic toothbrush most recommended by dentists around the world. There’s more to a Philips Sonicare smile than whiter, brighter teeth. Find out for yourself.

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