Caring for Sensitive Teeth

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With time and the proper treatment, tooth sensitivity can most likely be cured. 

Sensitive teeth may be the sign of a nerve problem, but in most cases they are just a nuisance.  Tooth sensitivity can be caused by two factors: the erosion of enamel and receding gum lines.  The enamel on your teeth and the gums that surround your teeth act to shied dentin, which is the layer of your tooth beneath the enamel.  Tubules in the dentin lead to root nerves, which can erupt in pain when exposed to heat or cold.

Tooth sensitivity most commonly affects people between the ages of 25 and 30, but can appear at any age.  With time and the proper treatment, tooth sensitivity can most likely be cured.  Here are six easy ways to combat tooth sensitivity at home.  If you try these at-home cures for tooth sensitivity for one month and get no relief, it's time to consult your dentist.

  1. Visit your dentist.  Your dentist has access to treatments that are more intensive than any home remedy.  In some cases, your dentist may recommend an "oxalate" root rub to coat the root and can stop or greatly reduce sensitivity.  A dentist can also use a bonding agent to seal and protect the roots of sensitive teeth.

    In some cases, tooth sensitivity may be the result of an old silver filling, which your dentist can replace with new, tooth-colored fillings for a more comfortable and aesthetic fix.  During your twice-annual dental cleaning, your dentist can also catch potential causes of sensitivity like the build-up of plaque.

  2. Brush away sugar, starch and acid.  Acid causes enamel erosion, so the sooner you remove acids from your teeth, the better.  Sugars and starches work to start the process of acid production in the mouth, so it's a good idea to brush after eating foods high in sugar and starch, as well.  To prevent sugary drinks like soda from affecting your enamel, try using a straw.

    Many over-the-counter mouthwashes contain acids, as well.  If you have sensitive teeth, ask your dentist to recommend an acid-free mouthwash.

  3. Drink lots of water.  Water can help rinse away any sugars, starches, or acid that may contribute to your tooth sensitivity.  And this may be hard to believe, but tap water is actually better for your teeth than bottled water, since it contains fluoride.

  4. Chew sugarless gum.  This is an easy way to care for and cleanse your teeth when you aren't able to brush.  Chewing gum triggers the production of saliva, which can replenish decay-preventing minerals on the teeth.  Also, gum may help remove food particles which can lead to plaque and gum disease, a common source of gum recession.

  5. Use a special toothbrush and toothpaste.  There are some toothpastes that are specially formulated for sensitive teeth.  Usually these toothpastes contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which plug the tubules in dentin that lead to the nerves.  They can also trigger minerals in the saliva that can harden over the tubules, offering another level of protection.

    Use a soft-bristled toothbrush which won't scratch enamel, and always brush gently.  To really give the pain-preventing chemicals a chance to interact, wait a bit before spitting and before rinsing.

  6. Use fluoride varnish or fluoride rinse.  Fluoride restores tooth enamel, repairing light damage to the teeth.  Using an over-the-counter fluoride rinse just once a day can help stop tooth pain and sensitivity.  You can also ask your dentist for a stronger formula, and he or she can coat your teeth with a fluoride varnish in just a few minutes.

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

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