One in every eight Americans may suffer from overly sensitive teeth. If you find yourself wincing with pain when you bite on certain kinds of foods, or when you drink extremely hot or cold beverages, you may count yourself in this unlucky segment of the population, wondering what you can do about your discomfort.
Fortunately, you can take advantage of several smart strategies to reduce your tooth sensitivity while preventing problems that might aggravate your symptoms. Start by considering the following four suggestions.
1. Seek Treatment for Tooth Decay or Gum Disease
If you’ve ever had a cavity or crack in a tooth, you may already know that such breaches in the tooth enamel can cause significant pain. The nerve-filled pulp chamber within a tooth reacts to changes in pressure or temperature. Additionally, bacteria that invade the pulp chamber can cause agonizing infections.
Chronic gum disease can also make your teeth sensitive. As bacterial infiltration triggers inflammation in the gum tissues, those tissues may start to recede, exposing more of the roots. Tooth roots aren’t covered with enamel like the rest of the tooth, so they have less protection and insulation.
Have your teeth and gums examined periodically on your dentist’s recommended schedule. You may need to have a filling replaced, a crown installed over a broken tooth, or some other restorative procedure. Early detection and treatment of gum disease can control receding gums.
2. Avoid Premature Enamel Wear
Tooth enamel boasts tremendous strength, but it can wear down over time. In fact, many people typically develop thinner enamel (and increased tooth sensitivity) simply because decades of use have taken their toll. However, certain factors can accelerate this enamel wear, worsening your sensitivity.
Once tooth enamel wears away, it cannot grow back. Even so, you can preserve your remaining enamel’s hardness and density by limiting your consumption of acidic and sugary foods. Many candies, juices, and sodas contain acids and sugars that attract acid-producing bacteria.
Many people ruin their tooth enamel by constantly clenching or grinding their teeth without realizing it. Your dentist can tell whether you suffer from this problem by examining your tooth wear. You may need to wear a customized night guard, take muscle relaxants, or avoid clenching and grinding triggers such as emotional stress.
3. Use a Desensitizing Toothpaste
The thinner your enamel becomes, the more likely you are to feel tooth pain easily. However, you can sometimes reduce the degree of pain you experience through regular use of desensitizing toothpastes, which contain potassium nitrate or other ingredients that block nerve signals.
Desensitizing toothpastes can take a few weeks of regular use to start producing results. The results themselves can vary widely according to the ingredients they contain and the condition of your teeth. Avoid brushing with any toothpaste too aggressively or with an overly firm toothbrush, which can remove even more of your enamel.
4. Don’t Go Overboard With Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening products and techniques can make your smile look noticeable brighter and whiter, especially when you undergo professional whitening to strip away stains with prescription-level bleaching agents. However, if you struggle with sensitive teeth, you may want to keep such cosmetic treatments to a minimum.
The effectiveness of these products for whitening your teeth depends on their ability to penetrate the tooth enamel. The peroxides in tooth whitening applications may irritate the sensitive tissues within the teeth. If you already suffer from tooth sensitivity, a whitening session may make it feel even worse.
Many unsightly stains on teeth actually sit on accumulations of tartar. If your teeth look discolored for this reason, your dentist may succeed in making them look whiter simply by performing a thorough professional cleaning, improving your smile without increasing your teeth’s sensitivity. Treasured Smiles Adult & Cosmetic Dentistry can help you enjoy more comfortable teeth for many years to come. Contact our office with any questions or to schedule dental care.