If you have sensitive teeth, you may be unable to enjoy favorite cold foods, such as ice cream, or heated drinks, such as hot chocolate. In addition to your teeth being sensitive to changes in temperature, they may also become uncomfortable when you enjoy sweets.
The discomfort may begin as a throbbing pain. However, for some people, it may even feel like a burning or a stinging sensation within the teeth. Regardless of how the dental sensitivity presents, it generally has the same origin.
Dental sensitivity usually occurs because of exposed dentin. The dentin is the layer of the tooth that lies just beneath the tooth enamel. Dentin includes small tubules that house the sensitive dental nerves. Once your tooth enamel is compromised, the dentin is uncovered, making the inflammation of dental nerves more likely.
There are multiple ways to help make living with sensitive teeth more bearable. Here are a few of them:
1. Brush with a toothpaste that includes potassium nitrate.
There is a toothpaste designed for practically every dental need, including sensitive teeth. Many types of toothpaste that are formulated for sensitive teeth include a compound called potassium nitrate. Potassium nitrate helps decrease dental sensitivity by blocking the tiny tubes that lie within the dentin. When used consistently, the toothpaste builds a cumulative barrier that helps to protect the dental nerves within the tubules.
2. Brush softly and wisely.
Although tooth enamel is an extremely hard substance, it can still suffer from erosion. When you brush your enamel vigorously with a hard-bristled toothbrush, you wear away the protective layer of your teeth. Thus, as you clean your teeth, it’s best to use a toothbrush with soft bristles. You should continue to brush for the suggested two minutes, but the force with which you brush and the type of bristles used can impact your dental sensitivity. Harder strokes and bristles can result in more exposed dentin and greater nerve inflammation.
It is also important to refrain from brushing for about a half hour after consuming an acidic food or beverage, such as soda or citrus fruit. The acidity can soften the enamel for a few minutes after the substance has been ingested. By waiting a bit before you brush, you can help ensure that your enamel is in its hardest state while you brush.
3. Have dental sealants strategically applied.
When it comes to caring for sensitive teeth, your dentist plays an important role. Just as he or she can apply dental sealants to protect your teeth from decay, sealants can also be applied to decrease dental sensitivity. During the application, a resin coating is applied to help form a protective barrier against substances that cause discomfort for sensitive teeth.
These barriers tend to last for years. However, once they wear away, they can be reapplied.
4. Skip foods and beverages that have a high acid content.
Some foods and beverages are more acidic than others. Items, such as grapefruit juice and red wine can cause the corrosion of your tooth enamel. When your enamel is exposed to acids, minerals within the enamel are dissolved. This dissolution sometimes results in cavities, but it may also increase dental sensitivity. The more that your teeth are exposed to acids, the greater the amount of enamel that is lost.
5. Use a mouth guard at night.
People who regularly grind their teeth at night often increase their dental sensitivity. The grinding wears away the tooth enamel.
Since teeth grinding often occurs while one sleeps, if you grind your teeth, you may not even be aware of when the grinding episodes occur. By using a mouth guard each night, you can protect your enamel from further damage.
6. Ask your dentist about a gum graft.
Sometimes, gums can naturally recede with age. Additionally, as the gums recede, the cementum that covers the roots of the teeth may begin to wear away. Once this occurs, dental sensitivity is exacerbated. Your dentist may be able to treat receding gums through a gum-grafting procedure that helps cover exposed dental roots.
For more ways to help reduce your dental sensitivity, contact our office to schedule an appointment.