You know the feeling. You can only chew on one side of your mouth. You avoid hot and cold beverages. Sometimes even brushing can hurt. If you can identify with any of these statements, you may have sensitive teeth. Luckily, there are measures you can take to reduce your sensitivity.
When a tooth’s enamel is compromised, it results in sensitivity. This can be caused by wear over time. If you brush too vigorously with a hard-bristled toothbrush, you can wear down the enamel and expose microscopic pores that lead to dental nerves. When exposed to hot, cold, or acidic foods, the result is tooth pain. You can reduce this by brushing more gently with a soft-bristled brush. Grinding your teeth can result in a similar weakening of the enamel. In this case, a custom mouth guard can protect your teeth when you sleep.
If your nerves are exposed, it’s not just hot and cold that can cause sensitivity. Acidic foods like tomato sauce, citrus fruit and pickles can also lead to pain. Make a note of foods that trigger sensitivity and avoid them if you can.
Sometimes the best intentions can have unintended consequences. If you experience pain with a whitening toothpaste, the chemicals might be to blame. Likewise with mouthwash–alcohol and other chemicals might make your teeth too sensitive. Try switching your toothpaste to a Sensitive formula, and choose an alcohol-free mouthwash.
Excessive buildup of plaque can wear away tooth enamel, exposing your teeth to sensitivity. Practice good daily dental care (brush and floss frequently) and visit the dentist every six months. Likewise, if you have gum disease, it could lead to tooth sensitivity. When gums are swollen or inflamed, they can creep up, exposing part of the root of your tooth. Talk to your dentist about sealing your teeth and treating the gum disease to alleviate sensitivity.
Often, the cause of tooth pain and sensitivity is more obvious–you may have a cracked tooth or decay around the edges of a filling. With cracked teeth, often a cap or extraction is the solution. In the case of decay, fillings are usually easy to replace.
Tooth sensitivity is treatable in many cases. Beyond the steps outlined above, you can talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments and prescription toothpaste that may help alleviate discomfort. Getting on the right track with your dental health is the first step to a lifetime of wellness.