Grin and Bear It – Sensitive Teeth


I have great teeth.  Not the sparkly Hollywood grins and definitely not the perfectly metered out dentures but dentists have never made fortunes from me. 


Forget the bizarre expressions I conjure up when I consume hot or cold nourishment.  I’ve begun cringing when gargling with tap water.  It took me a while to notice the discomfort – like constantly knocking a bruise that one forgets is there – but it’s definitely persisting. 

Armchair research

During a recent chemo session, I asked one of the nursing sisters about it.  She wasn’t sure how it should be treated but that it is fairly common among chemo patients.  Common?  The relief of discovering the cause was short lived.  What if I hadn’t asked and learned that?  I wondered briefly why they don’t simply issue a handy list of possible side effects rather than allow everyone these discoveries on their own.  Then I realised the mental impact it’d have.  If reading the list didn’t send me running for the hills on the first day, I’d be consulting it every time I had an itch or ache.  Scratch that idea.

In fact, she added, a patient the previous week had reported losing a healthy tooth!  Apparently, then, I’m getting off lightly.  I suppose most of the shock results from never having experienced the ongoing sensitivity to this sudden new discomfort which is a lifelong affliction for many people.  Thank you, genes.

A patient hooked up to the adjacent drip trolley told me a family member had experienced the same and had been using toothpaste without fluoride ever since but that her teeth had never recovered.  Here I was thinking fluoride is good for teeth.  Why else would they put it in the pasty stuff and sell the fact so ardently?!

I left it at that although a little confused intending to do some research on the function of fluoride.  Later I called the dentist.  He was shocked.  Fluoride is the ingredient that protects tooth enamel and so I should absolutely be using a fluoride toothpaste.  He recommended Sensodyne’s Repair and Protect and Colgate’s Pro Relief and so that’s what I’ll be using.  (No surprise, then, why Joe Blogg’s family member had never recovered if she didn’t replaced the lost enamel).

The lesson

Expect the unexpected side effects and ask the experts for advice.  Don’t entrust your health to the well-meaning Joe Blogg and his third hand advice.


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