Tooth sensitivity has a lot of causes, ranging from improper tooth brushing technique to cracked teeth or the consumption of acidic foods and beverages.
No matter the cause, one thing is certain: Sensitive teeth are a real pain in the neck. One minute you’re enjoying your ice cream or hot tea, and the next you’re wincing as a sudden pain shoots through your tooth.
The good news is most cases of tooth sensitivity can be treated. If you’re ready to get rid of tooth sensitivity stat, start with the following five strategies.
In addition to promoting healthier teeth and gums, good oral hygiene can help protect your teeth from sensitivity by preserving tooth enamel and offering protection against gum recession. The type of products you use as part of your oral hygiene routine can also influence the health of your enamel. For best results, take the following steps:
Gently brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day
Use a soft-bristled brush to reduce the risk of wearing down enamel; hard-bristled brushes are often too harsh
Avoid tooth-whitening toothpastes (which often have harsh chemicals that may erode tooth enamel) and opt for a fluoridated, desensitizing toothpaste instead. No matter which product you choose, look for the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance
Avoid harsh mouthwashes (such as those that contain alcohol), which can also provoke tooth sensitivity when used over the long term
Eating acidic foods and beverages on a regular basis can wear down tooth enamel and aggravate existing sensitivities, so avoiding these products is a sound strategy for coping with sensitive teeth. This includes foods and beverages such as coffee, soda, wine, citrus fruits, tomato sauce, and so on.
If you do drink acidic beverages, consider using a straw to minimize the amount of direct contact they make with your teeth. After consuming an acidic food or beverage, rinse your mouth with water to help remove any leftover enamel-eating substances. Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after consuming these substances, as the acidity will make your enamel more vulnerable to break down during brushing.
Frequent tooth clenching or grinding can wear down enamel over time, so this is an important habit to break. De-stressing techniques such as yoga and meditation may help reduce grinding frequency. If that doesn’t work, consider asking your dentist about wearing a mouthguard at night.
Cracks in a tooth open up pathways for bacteria and other substances to make their way into the center of the tooth and provoke sensitivity. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s so important to reach out to your dentist and treat cracked or broken teeth promptly.
Regular professional cleanings will help protect against cavities, gum recession, and the development of plaque, all of which can contribute to tooth sensitivity. In addition to offering these protections, your dentist can help you identify the root cause of any existing sensitivities and come up with a personalized treatment plan. For example, some people will find relief from the strategies described above, while others may require dental procedures such as filling replacements, bondings, fluoride varnishes, sealants, or even a gum graft or root canal.
Regardless of the cause of your tooth sensitivity, the good news is there’s probably a solution. Taking the time to employ a few home care strategies and/or pursuing more advanced dental treatments should provide the relief you seek.