Sensitive Teeth? Surefire Ways To Prevent and Reduce Discomfort
Sensitive teeth can cause discomfort or pain, but today you have more options than ever for treating this condition. These are the facts about tooth sensitivity and steps you and your dentist can take to prevent or reduce any discomfort.
The Facts About Sensitive Teeth
- Know your triggers. Many things can irritate teeth including hot and cold foods, sweet or sour tastes, cold air, and being touched by other teeth or your tongue. Cold foods are the most common culprit.
- Understand how healthy teeth work. When they're in prime condition, the crowns of your teeth are protected by strong enamel. An additional layer of cementum covers the root under the gum line. If these wear down, you become vulnerable to pain.
- Recognize dentinal sensitivity. Dentin is the part of your tooth underneath the enamel and cementum. It's full of little tubules that can transmit unpleasant sensations to the nerves in your teeth.
- Get familiar with pulpal sensitivity. Pulp refers to the blood vessels and nerves in each tooth. If this is the issue, you'll probably experience sensitivity in individual damaged teeth rather than throughout your mouth.
Steps Your Dentist Can Take
- See your dentist. Your dentist will ask you about your medical history and take x-rays in order to suggest a course of treatment. That way you can get the customized solutions you need.
- Apply desensitizing agents. In many cases, all you may need is a protective coating that helps to block transmissions to the nerve. These might be applied in the office or you might get products to take home with you.
- Take extra care after common procedures. Your teeth may need more delicate care temporarily after tooth whitening, fillings, cleanings or other procedures. Let your dentist know how you're feeling and follow all the instructions you're given.
- Get a root canal. Pulpal sensitivity may require a root canal. In that case, your dentist will remove the nerve and restore the tooth with a composite filling or crown.
- Ask about laser treatments. Laser treatments are one of the newest approaches. They work by applying quick pulses of energy and patients often find them gentler than conventional treatments.
Steps You Can Take At Home
- Brush and floss regularly. Brushing and flossing at least once a day is the best way to prevent gum disease that can lead to sensitivity and other issues. Avoid brushing too hard and use a soft brush to protect tooth enamel.
- Stop grinding your teeth. Your dentist can confirm if you may be grinding your teeth at night. Wearing plastic night guards can help while you learn methods to manage stress.
- Change the way you eat. You may need to cut back on acidic foods like citrus fruits, tea and soft drinks. It's also helpful to use a drinking straw and rinse your mouth or brush immediately after consuming them.
- Check your mouthwash. Some mouthwashes are acidic too. Ask your dentist to recommend a neutral solution you can use instead.
- Try a new kind of toothpaste. With more than 40 million Americans reporting some tooth sensitivity, there's now a wide variety of desensitizing toothpastes. Experiment until you find the brand that works for you. It often takes a month to see results. Be especially cautious about tartar control or whitening formulas that may be too harsh for your teeth.
Practice good oral hygiene and talk with your dentist if you are experiencing tooth sensitivity. It may just be a temporary condition or there may be simple remedies that will provide relief.