If you experience sudden pain in your teeth while consuming cold and hot food and beverages, eating something sour or acidic, or inhaling in cold or hot temperatures, you likely have sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity can happen for many reasons, including worn or damaged tooth enamel, exposed tooth roots, or cavities and cracks in your teeth. While more severe root causes of tooth sensitivity require professional dental treatment, you may be able to treat the issue at home. Read on to learn how to prevent and manage tooth sensitivity:
Don’t Brush Too Hard
Vigorous brushing increases your risk for tooth sensitivity by causing gums to drift away from your teeth, exposing the nerves and setting you up for tooth pain. Using a soft-bristled brush, gently brush your teeth twice a day in a circular motion to keep your enamel clean and strong.
Use Desensitizing Toothpaste
Over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste contains compounds like stannous fluoride and potassium nitrate that help prevent the transmission of sensation from the tooth to the nerve. With regular use, desensitizing toothpaste can help reduce tooth sensitivity. If you’re unsure about which brand to use or experience no alleviation after a few weeks of use, speak with your dentist.
Skip the Tooth Bleaching
Both in-office whitening procedures and at-home whitening kits can cause temporary sensitivity. If you have sensitive teeth and are in the quest for pearly whites, let your dentist know about your condition. Your dentist may not recommend whitening for you based on the level of sensitivity. And if you’re already bleaching, your dentist will advise you on whether you should continue.
Unclench Your Teeth
Excessive teeth grinding, a condition called bruxism, can wear down your enamel, leaving your teeth more vulnerable to pain and sensitivity. Bruxism often occurs as a natural reaction to stress or anxiety. Sometimes, incorporating de-stressing lifestyle changes into your day can address the problem. If this doesn’t work, your dentist can make a custom mouthguard that you can wear while you sleep.
Make a Saltwater Mouthwash
Salt is an effective antiseptic. When it comes to tooth sensitivity, it can help balance the pH inside the mouth and create an alkaline environment that reduces bacterial growth. To make a saltwater mouthwash, mix two teaspoons of salt with a cup of warm water. Use it twice daily until sensitivity improves.
Avoid Acidic Foods and Beverages
Highly acidic foods and drinks can attack the enamel and cause the gum line to recede, worsening sensitivity. Examples of problematic foods and drinks include pickles, sodas, citrus fruits and juices, coffee, sports drinks, sticky candy, and high-sugar carbs. To prevent or manage sensitivity, avoid such items or practice moderation when consuming them. Instead, snack on cheese, plain yogurt, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and milk. These will help fight acid and bacteria.
If you consume acidic foods or drinks, do not brush your teeth immediately after because it may exacerbate wear on your enamel.
Consider In-Office Treatments
You might want to see your dentist if you have severe sensitivity that is not responding to home remedies. Sometimes, tooth sensitivity can be caused by other dental issues like gum disease, naturally shrinking gums, holes in your teeth, or a cracked filling. Once your dentist has found the problem, there are in-office treatments they can use to ease your pain, including:
- Fluoride gel
- Crowns, inlays, bonding
- Root canal
- Gum grafts
You Don’t Have to Live with Sensitive Teeth
The remedy for tooth sensitivity depends on the cause and severity. You can address mild sensitivity with good oral hygiene and various home remedies. Severe teeth sensitivity may require treatment. Your dentist can help determine the underlying cause of sensitivity and recommend the right treatment.