If you are skipping hot and cold treats and meals because you’re afraid of pain in your teeth, it is time to talk to your dentist about sensitive teeth.
For some people, sensitive teeth are triggered by sweet and sour foods, and even cold air.
We have a multipart approach to helping individuals with sensitive teeth, and there are some things you can do proactively to help your treatment achieve the best results.
Take Care of Your Tooth Enamel
The hard protective layer that helps your teeth deal with everything you put them through doesn’t regenerate. When it’s gone, nerve endings that cause pain are exposed.
If you have sensitive teeth, it’s possible some of your enamel has worn away.
To prevent or put the brakes on that damage:
Don’t brush too hard. Do you clean your teeth with a heavy hand? You might be taking off more than just plaque. Side-to-side brushing right at the gum line can make your enamel go away faster. You should use a soft-bristled brush and work at a 45-degree angle to your gum to keep enamel clean and strong.
Avoid acidic foods and drinks. Soda, sticky candy, high-sugar carbs – all of these treats attack enamel. Instead, snack on:
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables
- Plain yogurt
These food choices will moisten your mouth with saliva and help fight acid and bacteria that can eat away at your teeth. Saliva helps neutralize acids, fights bacteria, and maintains a wet protective layer over your gums and teeth.
Chewing sugarless gum is a better alternative for your teeth. If you do eat something acidic, don’t rush to brush. Wait an hour or so to allow your weakened enamel to strengthen before you scrub.
Bruxism; unclench your teeth. Teeth grinding wears away your enamel. Sometimes, addressing your stress can stop the problem. If that doesn’t work, your dentist can fit you for a splint or a mouth guard.
If the problem is severe, you may need dental work to change your teeth’s position, or a muscle relaxant.
Get to the Root of the Problem
Sometimes, tooth sensitivity can be a sign of other issues, such as:
Naturally Shrinking Gums
If you’re over 40, it could be that your gums are showing signs of wear and tear by pulling away from your teeth and uncovering your tooth roots. Those roots don’t have enamel to protect them, so they’re much more sensitive than the rest of your tooth.
Tell your dentist if your gums look like they’re receding. It can be a sign of other problems, like gum disease. Serious cases may need a gum graft. That moves tissue from somewhere else to cover the bare area.
Plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth can make your gums pull back. When disease sets in, it can destroy the bony support structures for your tooth. To treat gum disease a deep clean of your teeth, called planing or scaling, is required. This treatment scrapes tartar and plaque below the gum line. You could also need medication or surgery to fix the problem.
A Cracked Tooth or Filling
The crack of a broken tooth can go all the way down to the tooth’s root. When this happens, you may notice pain when your tooth is cold. How your dentist fixes the crack depends on how deep it goes.
Once you’ve found the problem, there are things your dentist can use to help ease your pain, including:
- Toothpaste for sensitive teeth
- Fluoride gel
- Fillings that cover exposed roots
- Desensitizing pastes (not used with a toothbrush) you can get from your dentist
If your teeth are not evaluated by a dentist right away, the problem could get worse and require a root canal.
It’s also important not to shy away from dental care because of tooth pain. Ignoring your teeth can make things worse. Brush and floss twice a day to help keep your smile bright and pain-free. And see your dentist for a checkup 2 or more times a year.