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Sensitive Teeth, a Modern Problem

Increasingly dentists are face with sensitive teeth, T.V ads seem to always have toothpastes that will cure the problem, but few seem to talk about the cause.

The modern diet is highly acidic as a result of both healthy food and drink intake (high citric fruit, juices and smoothies ) as well as less healthy choices such as fizzy drinks, isotonic sports drinks and high sugar foods.

The citric fruits, I am sympathetic to as it forms part of a healthy diet but at times we can go overboard.

Fizzy drinks as my kids will tell you are best called sweetened battery acid and the isotonic sports drinks are pretty useless, unnecessary and dreamed up by the big business to fleece you of money. Check out our nutrition section for further advice and alternatives to
these drinks.

As a rule our mouths should be alkaline, when the mouth is acidic, teeth are being attacked, when the mouth is alkaline our mouth is healing. If you have a highly acidic diet the surface of the tooth is repeatedly weakened in this state it is prone to have a microscopic layer rubbed away by the foods you are eating or even tooth brushing, if you brush directly after an acidic breakfast. These amounts are minute but will quickly add up to visible surface loss (erosion) and this is becoming an increasing problem.

Dentists now think that a highly acidic diet destroys the biofilm on teeth, all teeth have a protein covering that develops from the saliva. This is a natural coating that protects and regulates the surface of the tooth, especially the softer root at the edge of the gums. The high acid diet attacks this covering that then allows sensitivity to develop.

If you have a high acid diet, try for 1 week to avoid fruits, juices etc, if the sensitivity settles that is the cause, if the symptoms persist it may be due to another reason, your saliva may not be protecting your teeth fully and need to be tested or you could be grinding your teeth at night, but the reason should be investigated further.


If you have a fruit filled breakfast try brushing your teeth first thing with a high fluoride tooth paste, this coats the teeth with fluoride and will counteract the effect of the acid, or if you can’t face brushing first thing use a alcohol free fluoride mouth-rinse directly after breakfast. It must be alcohol free as mouth-rinses that contain alcohol are also acidic. Alternatively you can get bicarbonate of soda form the chemist and make up a mouthwash, this is very alkaline and instantly buffers and neutralises the acid.

The worst thing you can do is eat an acidic meal then brush as you will just brush off a layer of tooth. All tooth pastes should be avoided after an acidic meal for 40 minutes to
allow the surface reharden this even applies to the sensitivity toothpastes.

  • Use a high fluoride toothpaste
  • Try to brush before an acidic meal, never after, use an alcohol free fluoride mouthwash
  • Use a bicarbonate mouthwash.
  • Limit the number of acid exposures