How to Help Sensitive Teeth: 7 Strategies to Reduce Your Discomfort

Do you have tooth pain when you indulge in your favorite ice cream or sip a hot cup of coffee? If the simple act of eating or drinking is causing discomfort to your teeth, you may be experiencing sensitive teeth.

Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that affects millions of people worldwide. The discomfort can range from being mildly annoying to severe pain that impacts your quality of life.

The good news is that you don’t have to live with sensitive teeth. There are things you can do to help reduce your discomfort. Here, we explore seven effective ways to help combat tooth sensitivity so you can eat and drink without worry.

The Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth can have several causes. The most common cause is damaged tooth enamel.

Tooth enamel is designed to protect the softer, more sensitive tissues of the teeth. When tooth enamel becomes damaged from plaque buildup, trauma to the teeth, and acidic foods and drinks, it can wear away and expose the softer layer beneath, called dentin. Compromised tooth enamel also makes teeth more susceptible to tooth decay and discoloration.

Dentin contains tiny microscopic channels, called tubules, that lead to the center of the tooth. At the center of the tooth are nerves and blood vessels that keep the tooth alive. However, these nerves are also sensitive to temperature. So, if you have compromised tooth enamel, the temperature from what you eat and drink travels down the channels through the dentin to the nerves of the tooth, which is what causes pain and sensitivity.

An exposed tooth root from gum recession, a crack in the tooth from trauma, and a damaged dental restoration, such as a crown or filling, can also cause sensitivity.

If you have tooth sensitivity, here are seven ways you can help sensitive teeth.

Choose a Sensitivity Toothpaste

Switching to a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can reduce discomfort and help you enjoy your favorite foods and drinks again.

Look for a fluoride toothpaste containing ingredients like potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride specifically marketed for sensitive teeth.

These compounds help block the nerve pathways that transmit the temperature to the inner nerve tissue of your tooth, resulting in reduced tooth pain over time, especially with regular use.

Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush

Using a toothbrush with hard bristles can exacerbate sensitive teeth, causing enamel erosion and gum abrasion. Therefore, it’s essential to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently clean your teeth without causing further damage.

Remember, brushing gently but thoroughly is key. People who use a toothbrush with harsh bristles or brush their teeth aggressively risk damaging their teeth and gums, causing gum recession and tooth enamel damage that can lead to even more sensitivity.

Practice Proper Brushing Techniques

Apart from choosing the right toothbrush, it’s essential to adopt proper brushing techniques. Brushing too forcefully can wear down tooth enamel and expose the underlying, sensitive layers of the tooth, especially if you’re brushing right after a meal or after eating or drinking something acidic.

Instead, use gentle circular motions with a soft-bristled toothbrush, spending at least two minutes brushing, focusing on every tooth surface and the gumline. Being gentle but thorough will help protect your gum tissue and clean your teeth for a healthy smile.

Limit Acidic Food and Beverages

Acidic foods and drinks can contribute to enamel erosion, which increases tooth sensitivity. Citrus fruits, soda, sugary foods, vinegar, and energy drinks are some common culprits.

Limit your intake of these acidic substances or try using a straw to bypass teeth if you want to drink something sweet. If you do consume acidic, sticky, or sugary foods, the American Dental Association recommends waiting one hour before brushing to allow your saliva to neutralize the acid and protect your enamel.

Brushing too soon after consuming acidic foods and drinks can cause additional damage to the tooth enamel. Since tooth enamel is porous, it can soften after you consume acidic or sugary items. Giving it time to re-harden can help prevent enamel damage that can lead to more sensitivity.

Protect Teeth From Bruxism

Grinding your teeth, a condition known as bruxism, can wear down tooth enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity. See your dentist to determine if you grind your teeth and explore possible treatment options, such as a custom mouthguard, to prevent further damage.

Protecting your teeth from bruxism can also help prevent trauma to your teeth, such as chips and cracks, that can lead to more extreme tooth sensitivity and potentially require root canal therapy to fix.

Consider Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been shown to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the risk of tooth decay. For some patients with extreme tooth sensitivity or a higher risk of cavities, professional fluoride treatments with a dentist may be able to help.

Your dentist can help determine if you would benefit from a fluoride gel applied to the teeth to offer additional protection from sensitivity and decay. Your dentist might also suggest a fluoride-based, alcohol-free mouthwash daily after brushing to prevent enamel erosion and related damage in sensitive areas of your teeth.

Seek Professional Help for Sensitive Teeth

If you’ve tried the above methods and your tooth sensitivity persists, it’s time to see your dentist. Teeth are not meant to be overly sensitive, and if you have sensitivity that won’t go away or extreme sensitivity, there could be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed to help alleviate your discomfort.

Your dentist can identify any underlying dental issues that may be contributing to the sensitivity, such as gum disease, cracks, chips, teeth grinding, or cavities. Professional treatments like dental bonding, gum disease treatment, fillings, or fluoride varnishes may offer long-term relief.

Reduce Your Tooth Sensitivity With Saunders DDS in Asheville

Don’t let tooth sensitivity interfere with your daily life. By adopting these seven simple strategies, you can effectively reduce tooth sensitivity and enjoy your favorite foods and drinks without discomfort.

Schedule an appointment with Saunders DDS today to discuss your tooth sensitivity, oral health routine, and potential treatment options so you can start to feel better. Contact us today at (828) 277-6060 or reach us online to request an appointment!

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