Do your teeth ever hurt when you drink hot tea or coffee? Or take a bite from an ice cream cone? Does even the cold air from walking outdoors on a chilly day cause your teeth to ache?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there’s a good chance you’re suffering from sensitive teeth. Lucky for you—and millions of other —relief is available.
What causes sensitive teeth?
Pain occurs when the hard layer of enamel that protects your teeth breaks down, or if your gums begin to recede, leaving the dentin exposed. Dentin is the layer of tissue that contains hyper-sensitive tubules. As you’ve likely noticed, triggers such as hot, cold, sweet or sour foods, or even brushing and flossing your teeth, irritate the tubules and results in pain.
Sensitive teeth can stem from a variety of causes:
– An underlying dental problem, such as a cracked or chipped tooth, or a cavity. The empty space created by these issues can harbor bacteria and eventually penetrate the pulp inside your tooth, causing infection.
– Gum disease
– Being too diligent with your dental hygiene routine by brushing too hard, or too often, can wear down the enamel.
– Naturally, not brushing enough is also problematic; left unbrushed, plaque will eventually build up on the roots.
– Grinding your teeth
– Everyday dental products like tooth whitening treatments or different types of mouthwash can dissolve enamel.
– Acidic foods, including pickles, oranges, tomatoes, and some types of tea and can also break down enamel.
How can I treat my sensitive teeth at home?
There are a variety of at-home options for treating your sensitive teeth:
– Find a “happy medium” when brushing: If you’re buying a new toothbrush every month because the bristles are flattened, you’re brushing too hard. Brushing softly twice a day will reduce damage on the enamel, while not allowing plaque to build up.
– Get the right gear: Make sure to use a soft-bristled tooth brush; hard bristles, often found on cheaper brushes, can grind away the enamel. Buy fluoride toothpaste and be wary of any products that claim to remove stains from your teeth or control tartar.
– Watch the acid and sugar: Try to limit the amount of food and drink you consume that are high in these elements. And make sure to drink plenty of water, as staying hydrated generates saliva, which helps break down foods and battle the bacteria in your mouth.
– Stay in touch! Good dental hygiene is extremely important, yet it only goes so far. Everyone needs to visit the dentist for regular cleaning to polish away tartar and check-ups to ensure no cavities are forming.
What if I need further treatment?
If your efforts to curb sensitive teeth at home aren’t working, or if your pain is growing worse, let us help you. The discomfort could be caused by a larger issue, such as an infection within a cavity. If the increased pain has not subsided for 3-4 days, book an appointment with your dentist to investigate.
Aren’t sensitive teeth just part of life?
Absolutely not! While 1-in-3 people suffer from sensitive teeth today, there is no need to live in pain when treatment is available.