Tooth sensitivity is not an uncommon occurrence. Many individuals experience tooth pain, primarily when consuming hot or cold foods or beverages, and the root cause is often preventable. In many cases, tooth sensitivity can be avoided by following a few simple guidelines. Whether your tooth sensitivity occurs in one or several of your teeth, you might want to evaluate your diet, lifestyle and habits, as well as the dental products you've been using.
An Unpleasant Scenario
Imagine this scenario: It's a hot summer day and you can't wait to dig into that double-scoop ice cream sundae. You place one spoonful of the frozen dessert into your mouth and the result is instantaneous tooth pain. Even if you have never experienced this, you'll want to prevent an occurrence from ever happening. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce tooth sensitivity or avoid it altogether, including these five tips:
1. Say No to Hard Bristles
If you're using a hard-bristled toothbrush, you may be wearing away the enamel of your teeth. By doing so, you're exposing the dentin, which is an underlying layer to your teeth. Small pores in the dentin contain nerve openings, and when hot or cold substances come into contact with these nerves, you may experience pain.
Even a medium-bristled toothbrush may be too rigid for some. Replace your medium or hard-bristled toothbrush with a soft bristled one. It will be much gentler on the surface of your teeth, therefore less likely to damage the enamel.
2. Check Your Toothpaste
Have you switched to a new toothpaste and recently begun to experience tooth sensitivity? Toothpaste containing baking soda, hydrogen peroxide or other whitening ingredients could be the culprit. Tooth whitening pastes and gels tend to be abrasive and damaging to the enamel.
Try using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. If you want the benefits of a whitening toothpaste without the harsh ingredients, consider using a whitening toothpaste made for sensitivity. A toothpaste for sensitive teeth will help protect the enamel on your teeth.
3. Be Gentle When Brushing
Even if you're using the most non-abrasive toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrush, your method of brushing may be causing you problems. You may think vigorous brushing is best, but this may be doing more harm than good. Instead, use gentle up and down strokes and floss after meals.
4. Change Your Diet
Your sensitive teeth may be caused by the foods you're eating. Too many sweets or hard candies may lead to cavities. Even small cavities may cause tooth sensitivity.
Equally alarming, those "healthy" foods you eat may be damaging your tooth enamel. Citrus fruits and acidic foods may be rich in vitamins and antioxidants, but they can strip the tooth enamel over time, when consumed regularly. To prevent problems, limit your intake of oranges, lemons, tomatoes and such.
5. Protect Your Teeth From Grinding
Do you grind your teeth when sleeping? If so, you may notice more than an aching jaw upon awakening. Teeth grinding may eventually wear down the enamel of your teeth, causing sensitivity issues. If you can't seem to quit the teeth grinding habit at night, you should wear a mouth guard while sleeping. You can buy a ready-made mouth guard, or ask your dentist at a place like Knellinger Dental Excellence to custom fit one for you.
6. Receive Routine Dental Examinations
Last, but certainly not least, see your dentist regularly for routine check-ups. Anything from plaque and tartar, to tooth decay and gum disease, may be causing your tooth sensitivity. If you have cavities, have them filled before the damage spreads. Left untreated, cavities may lead to further sensitivity, tooth loss or infection.
Are any of your teeth chipped or cracked? If you have a chipped tooth, your dentist might want to place a cap or crown over the tooth. This may also help minimize tooth sensitivity.
Stick to these guidelines to reduce the risk of tooth sensitivity and enjoy a healthy smile.