Having sensitive teeth can be a real pain - literally. That sharp, sudden discomfort when you finally take a sip of that satisfying cup of hot coffee, indulge in an ice cream, slushee, or cold desert, or even breathe in that chilly air. But fear not! Sensitive teeth are actually quite common, and there are steps you can take to alleviate the discomfort and enjoy your favorite foods and drinks without worry. In this blog post, we'll explore the causes of tooth sensitivity and offer some practical tips and solutions to help you find relief and maintain a healthy smile.
Understanding Tooth Sensitivity
Before we delve into the remedies, it's important to understand why tooth sensitivity occurs. The outer layer of your teeth, called enamel, is designed to protect the more sensitive inner layers, including dentin and nerve endings. When the enamel wears down or is compromised, it can expose these sensitive areas, leading to discomfort. Some common causes of tooth sensitivity include:
- Enamel Erosion: Over time, enamel can erode due to acidic foods, beverages, or aggressive brushing habits.
- Gum Recession: When gums recede, the tooth roots become exposed, which are more sensitive to temperature changes and pressure.
- Tooth Decay: Cavities can cause tooth sensitivity, especially when they reach the inner layers of the tooth.
- Tooth Grinding: Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can wear down enamel and lead to sensitivity.
You may also experience teeth sensitivity following whitening treatment (whether you’ve done it at home or in chair at a dental clinic). This type of sensitivity is different to everyday sensitivity as it is temporary and often disappears within 24-48 hours following the treatment.
What can you do to manage sensitive teeth?
Your oral hygiene routine
Preventing further enamel erosion is crucial. As you’ve heard over and over again, it is important to brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste twice daily. Avoid brushing too vigorously, as this can exacerbate sensitivity. Finish strong with a fluoride mouthwash to strengthen your teeth.
1. Assessing your diet
Limit the consumption of acidic foods and beverages such as citrus fruits, soda, and wine to avoid exposure to your enamel. Try to use a straw when drinking acidic beverages to minimize contact with your teeth. Additionally, cut down on sugary snacks and maintain a balanced diet rich in calcium.
2. Sensitive toothpaste
Consider switching to a toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes contain compounds that help block pain signals to the nerves in your teeth. It is important to not over-use these products and to rotate switching to different brands, as prolonged use may affect the result.
3. Be mindful of your toothbrushing technique
Brushing too hard can wear down your natural enamel and worsen tooth sensitivity. It can also contribute to gum recession in the long run and cause more harm than good. Opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush and use gentle, circular motions when brushing.
4. Address Teeth Grinding
If you grind your teeth at night (even if you may not know that you do), speak to your dentist about a custom-made mouthguard. Wearing a mouth guard can protect your teeth from damage and reduce sensitivity.
5. Regular Dental Checkups
Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleans. They can identify and address issues like cavities or gum recession early on.
6. Fluoride Treatment
Following your six monthly check up and cleans, dentists or hygienists often finish with a fluoride mousse which aims to strengthen your tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity.
In severe cases of sensitivity, your dentist may suggest dental bonding, porcelain veneers or even crowns to cover exposed tooth surfaces and protect them from discomfort or further damage.
Tooth sensitivity has been a common problem for a while but thankfully there are more ways to manage the discomfort with the right care and attention. Don’t let the pain dictate your life. By following these tips and working closely with your dentist, you can reduce sensitivity and enjoy a comfortable, pain-free smile. Remember, a proactive approach to oral health is key to preventing and addressing tooth sensitivity effectively.
An appreciator of art, novels and high intensity sports. With a passion for work and a dangerous addiction to tea.