Dental Hypersensitivity: How to identify, treat sensitive teeth

Have you ever experienced a sudden painful sensation in your tooth while taking cold or hot water? Is yours a shocking sensation while having ice cream that you had to spit out the content or hold your mouth till the pain receded?

If yes, you may be suffering from what dentist refer to as Dental hypersensitivity or Dentine sensitivity.

Dentine sensitivity is a common dental problem that causes discomfort or shocking pain in the tooth when it encounters certain substances and temperature. Though the pain is temporary, it can be very discomforting.

According to a series of educational tweets by the Nigerian Dental Association (NDA) on its twitter handle @nigdental , dentine sensitivity is that shocking sensation you feel on your teeth when you consume cold or hot drinks or take certain fruits.

What is dentine sensitivity?

Dentine hypersensitivity affects those with good and poor oral hygiene.

This is caused by layers of exposed dentine which should naturally be covered by the tooth enamel. Dental sensitivity may be a chronic problem if it affects more than one tooth.

According to the tweet, one out of seven adults suffer from this ailment. It said patients complain more about tooth sensitivity during cold or hot season

The tweet said “the situation is often aggravated during the harmattan season, in places where it snows or in places where the heat waves increases and people need to consume more cold fluid”.

It explained that tooth sensitivity is as a result of the eroded thin outer covering of the tooth (enamel). Enamel covers the crown which is the part of the tooth that is visible outside the gums.

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NDA in its tweet said anything that causes the enamel to erode and leads to dentine exposure is a potential cause of sensitivity.

It said some of the things that cause sensitive teeth are the use of hard toothbrushes and faulty brushing techniques, acidic fruits and soft drinks, reflux diseases, dental caries among others.

According to a publication in Dentistry, it suggested that tooth brushing should be postponed for at least 30 minutes after meal. It said brushing soon after eating or drinking acidic foods or beverages can increase the risk of tooth brushing abrasion.

“It takes about two hours after eating or drinking for deleterious effects of the enamel to be resolved,” it said.

It also suggested that tooth whitening and overuse of whitening products are risk factors for tooth sensitivity. It said some chemicals used in the process (carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide) are able to penetrate through enamel and dentine very quickly.


According to the tweet, management starts with identifying the cause of the dentine sensitivity and eliminating it.

To manage the aliment, people suffering from the situation are advised to visit the dentist.

It said “visit your dentist if you are experiencing symptoms suggestive of dentine sensitivity. Management can be done by a thorough assessment by a dentist. Depending on the extent the enamel exposure, the dentist can institute various means of reducing it.”

It said this can be done through the use of desensitising agents, placement of varnishes or restorative materials and other methods of treatment.

Also, the tweet advised the use of toothpaste which contains strontium and or fluoride.

“Improved oral hygiene is important in the management of the ailment,” it said.

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