Suffering from tooth sensitivity may seem like an insignificant issue, but for those who live with it on a daily basis, it can begin to impact you in many frustrating ways. Consuming your favourite flavour of ice cream or biting into an apple can suddenly turn into a painful activity to endure.
So what can you do about sensitive teeth? If you have sensitive teeth, there are some effective ways that you can get relief and get back to enjoying the things you love, like ice cream. Read on to learn tips about how to relieve your tooth sensitivity.
What Can You Do About Sensitive Teeth: A Complete Guide
In order to understand better how to combat tooth sensitivity and what can you do about sensitive teeth, let us take a step back and see what stands behind that sharp tooth pain.
Sensitive Teeth Symptoms
People suffering from tooth sensitivity may feel pain or discomfort at the roots of the affected teeth in response to specific triggers.
The main symptom of teeth sensitivity is discomfort or sharp pain in response to:
- Cold foods and beverages
- Hot foods and beverages
- Acidic foods and beverages
- Sweet foods and beverages
- Cold air
- Cold water
- Alcohol-based mouth rinses
- Brushing or flossing teeth
The symptoms may come and go, without any obvious reason. They can also range from mild to strong.
Why Do My Teeth Hurt?
Before we dive into what can you do about sensitive teeth, let us talk about sensitive teeth causes.
Naturally, some people may have increased sensitivity due to thinner enamel. The enamel is the strongest outer layer of the tooth that serves to protect the tooth.
Over time, the enamel can be worn down due to:
- Using a hard-bristled toothbrush
- Brushing your teeth too hard
- Clenching or grinding teeth at night
- Over-consuming acidic foods and beverages
Your teeth may be temporarily more sensitive after a dental treatment, such as getting a crown or dental fillings, or teeth bleaching. In this case, only the tooth being treated will show the signs of sensitivity. The discomfort should subside after several days.
Health conditions could also lead to tooth sensitivity. For example, Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) can cause the acid to rise from the stomach and esophagus, which may wear down the enamel over time. Conditions that involve frequent vomiting, such as bulimia or gastroparesis, can also cause the acid to destroy the enamel.
Sometimes, tooth sensitivity can signal other oral health issues, such as:
1. Natural Gum Recession
If you are over 40 years old, your gums may be starting to show signs of wear and tear by starting to recede and exposing your tooth roots. Tooth roots don’t have any enamel, so they are a lot more sensitive than the rest of the mouth.
If you notice that your gum tissue is starting to pull back, tell your dentist as soon as possible. It could signal other issues, such as gum disease. In more serious cases, you may require a gum graft, – a procedure, in which tissue from somewhere else in the mouth is transferred to cover the exposed roots.
2. Gum Disease
The buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth can cause your gums to recede, or pull back. Sometimes, the harmful bacteria can set in and start destroying the bony support of your teeth, called cementum. Harmful habits, such as smoking or chewing tobacco, can also lead to gum disease.
The treatment options for receding gums include deep cleaning of your teeth, referred to as planing and scaling. During this procedure, all the tartar and plaque are scraped from below the gum line. You could also require medication or oral surgery to fix the issue.
3. A Cracked Tooth or Filling
If you break your tooth, the crack can spread all the way to the tooth root. You will start feeling pain when the tooth is cold or hot.
The way your crack can be fixed would depend on how deep it goes. If it is a smaller crack affecting only the crown of the tooth, the dentist may be able to fill it in with a regular filling. Otherwise, the tooth will have to be extracted.
4. Tooth Decay
Cavities or potential tooth damage can also lead to increased tooth sensitivity. If you experience sensitivity localized in one tooth, pain when biting down or chewing, or staining on the surface of your tooth, you should visit the dentist right away. This may signal that you require a root canal.
How do You Stop Sensitive Teeth Pain at Home?
If you notice that your teeth are becoming more sensitive, and asking what can you do about sensitive teeth, we have some good news. There are a few steps you can take to relieve the pain from the comfort of your home.
Don’t Brush Too Hard
Many of us are guilty of brushing aggressively to get our pearly whites as clean as possible. But using all of that pressure can actually do more harm than good. Brushing gently will remove plaque just as well. Use a soft-bristled, oscillating toothbrush to effectively clean your teeth without placing a heavy hand on your teeth. This will help keep your tooth enamel clean and strong without causing damage during the cleaning process.
Use Desensitizing Toothpaste
There are many varieties of toothpaste available today that target sensitive teeth. You can use these in replacement for your regular toothpaste since they can help relieve the pain.
Use Flouride Mouthwash
Rinsing your mouth daily with a fluoride mouthwash or using a gel can also provide relief. Flouride helps to build up the minerals in your teeth. This helps strengthen the enamel while blocking the nerve endings that cause pain.
Avoid Teeth Grinding
Do you grind your teeth when stressed, fearful, or anxious, or even when you’re sleeping? Grinding can cause the protective layer on the exterior of the tooth called enamel to wear down over time. This exposes dentin, the sensitive layer beneath the tooth, leading to sensitivity especially when faced with hot or cold temperatures. If you grind your teeth out of stress, try identifying the stressors and taking up relaxation techniques such as meditation. If you grind your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about a mouth guard that can help protect your teeth while you sleep.
Avoid Consuming Acidic Food And Drink
We all know how damaging junk food is to our health, and eventually, you might be paying the cost of tooth sensitivity. Consuming soda, high-sugar carbs, and sticky candy will also impact the enamel of your teeth. Try to avoid these and instead, stick to more fibre-rich fruits and veggies and plain yogurt that will help fight against acid and bacteria.
Try to avoid these and instead, stick to foods that will help fight against acid and bacteria, as well as moisten your mouth:
- Fibre-rich fruits and veggies
- Plain yogurt
You can also drink black or green tea or chew on no-sugar gum. And if you do happen to eat something acidic, don’t brush your teeth right away.
Give Your Teeth a Break From Bleaching
Maintaining those pearly whites while still consuming our favourite teeth-staining agents like coffee and red wine often means that bleaching products can be relied upon too much.
Bleaching your teeth with whitening products can leave your teeth overly sensitive. This does, however, usually subside soon after treatment. But if this is something that you’re using on a regular basis, it could also be causing damage to your tooth enamel. So avoid teeth whitening treatments to see if the sensitivity subsides.
Give your teeth a break and talk to your dentist about how it might be impacting your tooth sensitivity.
Schedule a Chek-Up with the Dentist
If you’re finding that your sensitive teeth are persistent and hindering your ability to eat and drink pain-free, then it’s time to book an appointment with your dentist. There could be larger factors at play such as a fractured tooth, gum disease, or a loose filling. And the sooner the dentist can take a look, the sooner you can get the necessary treatment to gain some relief.
Tooth Sensitivity Treatment
If the home remedies for sensitive teeth fail, the dentist can use a few things to help you relieve the pain:
- Fluoride gel
- Toothpaste for sensitive teeth
- Fillings to cover exposed roots
- Mouthguard to protect your teeth if you grind
- Desensitizing pastes
For more serious cases, a dentist may recommend a tooth canal.
If you are asking yourself what can you do about sensitive teeth, it is crucial to not avoid dental care because your teeth hurt or are sensitive. Ignoring the pain can make things a lot worse, so seek professional advice as soon as you notice discomfort.
Keep Your Teeth Healthy with Rockcliffe Dental & Denture Centre
So what can you do about sensitive teeth?
There are a myriad of things that we do on a daily basis that can create sensitive teeth. But by incorporating these tips into your daily routines you can help relieve tooth sensitivity and improve your overall dental health.
To keep your teeth in good health, regular dental examinations are essential.
Contact Rockcliffe Dental & Denture Centre today to book an appointment.
- Learn more about general dentistry in Ottawa
- Understand tooth sensitivity