If the thought of biting into an ice cream cone fills you with dread, you’re not alone. As many as 1 in 8 people experience teeth sensitivity, and unfortunately, this condition can create a lot of discomfort—especially when the teeth are exposed to air, cold, or certain types of foods.
However, the good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce or eliminate teeth sensitivity. Read on to learn what those steps are, as well as what causes teeth sensitivity, so you can better protect your mouth going forward.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
There are a number of factors that can cause sensitivity, including:
- Cavities – bacteria can burrow into the tooth and cause tooth destruction. The loss of the protective enamel layer leads to sensitivity.
- Hard Brushing – Brushing zealously with a medium or hard-bristled toothbrush can wear away tooth enamel, exposing dentin. Once this occurs, your nerve endings get stimulated, which causes pain.
- Gum Disease or Recession – Gum problems expose the root surface of teeth, leaving nerves unprotected.
- Cracked Teeth – Cracks allow bacteria to enter the pulp of a tooth, causing inflammation and discomfort.
- Teeth Grinding – When teeth become worn down, dentin is exposed, leading to discomfort.
- Whitening Products – The quest for bright, white teeth can sometimes lead to heightened sensitivity.
- Highly Acidic Foods – Certain foods and beverages can wear away at tooth enamel, such as citric juices, tomatoes, tea, and pickles.
What’s the First Step to Treating Sensitive Teeth?
First, it is very important that you have the condition evaluated at Smile Hilliard. Dr. Sanyk will determine if the sensitivity is caused by something that needs to be treated, like fractures or cavities, or your tooth sensitivity can be helped with at-home remedies. Often, teeth sensitivity is caused by more than one factor, and there may be multiple ways to combat it.
How Can I Treat Sensitive Teeth at Home?
To reduce sensitivity at home, we recommend the following remedies:
- Desensitizing Toothpaste – If you haven’t tried toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth before, this should be your first step. Desensitizing toothpaste actually blocks the nerves in your teeth from sending signals to your brain. Over-the-counter products are most effective when used consistently and without rinsing with water after use.
- Prescription-strength Fluoride toothpastes and topical gels – Most likely, your regular toothpaste has fluoride in it, but how does 5x that amount sound? Not only does fluoride reduce the effects of bacteria, but it can make your tooth structure harder and less susceptible to sensitivity.
- Occlusal guard – Whether grinding during the day, at night, or both, wearing an occlusal guard to absorb some of the extra forces you put on your teeth will help slow the exposure of dentin and reduce the risk for fractures.
- Electric toothbrush – Using an electric toothbrush that has a pressure-indicating feature will lessen the risk of recession and root exposure.
What Should I Do If I’m Still Experiencing Discomfort?
If teeth sensitivity—or other dental problems—are causing you discomfort, we encourage you to make an appointment at Smile Hilliard, so we can help you experience pain relief.