Dealing with tooth sensitivity is never fun; it’s literally a pain in the mouth! Also known as “dentin hypersensitivity,” tooth sensitivity affects roughly 12 percent of Americans, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association. Anything from cold drinks to hot foods and sweet treats can give you a cringe-worthy throbbing sensation. Also, if you’ve experienced a cracked tooth, worn tooth enamel or worn fillings, you may be prone to sensitivity.
So, what’s really going on inside your teeth when tooth sensitivity strikes? The enamel (the protective outer layers of the teeth) are wearing away exposing the dentin in your teeth and the nerve endings running through them. Dentin is made of microscopic tubules, and when that dentin loses the covering that protects it, the tubules let in the agitating substances that stimulate the nerves inside the tooth. Sounds painful, right? Luckily, several useful remedies will help lessen the discomfort.
Steer Clear of Acidic Foods & Drinks
While experiencing tooth sensitivity, even a glass of red wine or soda can trigger pain. If this happens to you, go easy on the fruit juices and acidic foods, like pickles, oranges, tomatoes, and lemons. If you consume anything acidic, you should brush no earlier than 20 minutes after eating, as brushing any sooner may further irritate the tooth enamel.
Change Your Toothpaste
There are quite a few toothpaste brands that are created to alleviate sensitivity of the teeth. In most cases, these kinds of toothpaste will contain an active ingredient known as potassium nitrate, which blocks the tubules found in the dentin to relieve discomfort. For the best results, you’ll want to continue using the toothpaste for more than just a few days–it could take several weeks before you experience results.
Adjust Your Brushing Intensity
Brushing too hard can wear down the enamel on your teeth, thereby irritating sensitive teeth. Instead, try using a softer toothbrush and brush less vigorously. Also, if you’ve experienced gum recession or bone loss, then the roots of your teeth may be exposed, causing you increased pain during brushing.
Ask Your Dentist about Desensitizing Agents
If you’ve tried everything above but you’re having no luck, ask your dentist about desensitizing agents like fluoride varnish or plastic resins that can be applied directly to sensitive spots on your teeth. Keep in mind that these agents wear off after several months (though they can sometimes last for a couple of years) and will need to be reapplied accordingly.
Halt the Teeth Grinding
You’d be surprised how many people grind their teeth unknowingly. Often, teeth grinding happens during sleep or during stressful times. But this seemingly innocent habit could be causing the enamel of your teeth to wear away creating painful tooth sensitivity. Ask your dentist if a nighttime mouthguard is right for you. If you catch yourself clenching your teeth during the day, try to focus on relaxing your jaw and slightly part your teeth.
Check for Receding Gums
Typically, the root of your tooth is covered by gum tissues. However, for those who experience gum recession (which could be caused by gum disease or vigorous brushing), the root of the tooth may be exposed, and the cementum (which protects the root) might be wearing away. In some cases, your dentist can restore the receding gums. However, you should first have your teeth examined to determine the cause of the tooth sensitivity before beginning an aggressive restorative treatment.
Consult a Dentist About Tooth Sensitivity
Certainly, there are many options to help solve your tooth sensitivity troubles. But it’s important to have your teeth examined thoroughly to pinpoint the exact cause of your discomfort. If you’re suffering from sensitive teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss effective treatment options.