Do your kids ever complain about sore teeth when drinking something hot or cold? This could be a sign of tooth sensitivity – or a warning about more serious dental problems to come.
All about enamel
Although it’s the hardest substance in the human body, you only have a thin layer of enamel protecting your teeth. If it’s worn away – by physical or chemical means – the result can be sensitivity.
Dr Karlien Roper from rt healthy teeth in Surry Hills says: ‘The pain of sensitivity is due to tiny holes in the enamel – minute nerves inside the tooth are exposed to extremes in temperature, triggering pain. Plus, as the dentine layer underneath enamel is off white rather than full-on white, your teeth could take on a yellowy tinge. The bottom line? Your teeth are more vulnerable to being worn down.’
The causes of sensitive teeth
Lots of people are affected by sensitive teeth and lots of factors can contribute, says Dr Karlien, including:
- Brushing too hard can literally brush enamel away.
- Acid erosion – enamel dissolves when in contact with acidic food and drinks, such as juice, cordial and soft drinks.
- Tooth grinding and clenching.
- Cracks in a tooth – exposing the sensitive insides to the outside.
So what about those tiny little baby teeth…?
Even though baby teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced by adult teeth, it’s essential that babies and toddlers have good dental hygiene from a young age, to help fend off tooth sensitivity in later years.
Here are some facts and tips for parents with little babies:
- Babies can start teething as early as 3 months and by age 3 most kids will have a full set of teeth.
- Even before the first tooth appears, it’s a good idea to clean the gums with water and a facewasher daily.
- Once your baby has teeth, get your hands on an age appropriate kids toothbrush and start to gently brush the teeth with water only – there is no need for toothpaste until 18 months of age.
- It’s suggested that kids have their first visit to the dentist at around age 2. Even if they don’t have a full set of baby teeth, this initial assessment will give parents general advice on keeping your toddlers teeth in good health for when the Tooth Fairy visits!
If your child complains about their teeth, then do something – fast!
Ready to protect your kids’ smile? Dr Karlien suggests that you:
- Book a preventive dental check-up. A massive 78% of primary teeth in 5–15-year-old children show signs of acid erosion, which usually gets worse with age so it’s worth tackling early.
- Use special products. Your dentist may treat sensitive areas with appropriate products – gels, rinses or varnishes – to help relieve the symptoms and build protection.
- Get your kids into the habit of brushing – but not too soon. Brush at least twice daily using small, circular movements with a soft-bristled brush and a fluoride containing toothpaste. Don’t brush until at least half an hour after eating or drinking though – or you could literally brush away acid softened enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride containing mouthwash.
- Use special toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. ‘These plug up the tiny holes, protect enamel and reduce the nerve’s response to sensitivity. Use as a daily toothpaste and/or apply with a finger to sensitive areas – your dentist can advise you,’ says Dr Karlien.
- Watch the acidic drinks, especially before bed. Dr Karlien explains: ‘Juices, cordials, sports drinks, and carbonated (fizzy) drinks are all acidic. When they come into contact with teeth, they soften the minerals in your teeth. One study from the University of Adelaide showed that after kids consume acidic beverages, it took just 30 seconds for the damage to occur’. These drinks are especially bad before bed, ‘as the amount of saliva is naturally reduced during sleep, which leaves more time for acid from juices and manufactured drinks to attack the teeth. Water has no acid, no kilojoules and most tap water in Australia contains fluoride,’ ends Dr Karlien Roper.
rt healthy teeth is situated at 1 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.
Call: 1300 991 044