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Understanding Sensitive Teeth

If certain foods cause tooth pain, then you may have sensitive teeth, particularly if those foods are acidic, very cold, or sweet. Sensitive teeth are very common anymore, but they’re easily preventable and easily treated. If you have sensitive teeth, you may find that you can no longer eat the foods you enjoy, and for some people, even cold air can cause pain. This means they can no longer participate in their favorite outdoor activities.

When both your diet and activities are curtailed, you may feel as though you’ve lost a lot of enjoyment in your life. However, you don’t need to continue with this because you can eliminate the causes of your tooth sensitivity and regain your enjoyment in life.

Usually, tooth sensitivity happens when the tooth enamel erodes and allows foreign substances to contact the tooth roots and nerves. Erosion can occur as the result of overly aggressive brushing habits, weak tooth enamel, chipped or cracked teeth that have allowed bacteria to start internal decay, or receding gums due to gum disease.

The treatment protocol for your sensitive teeth will depend on the reason they’re sensitive, and your dentist is the best person to determine that. Sometimes, there’s an underlying health issue that causes your teeth to be sensitive, but it’s usually due to lifestyle habits. If your receding gums are due to gingivitis, then you should make an appointment with your dentist without delay. When gingivitis is treated early, it’s completely curable, but if you wait, it can escalate and cause you to lose all your teeth.

Fluoride supplements can strengthen your tooth enamel, as can topical fluoride applications. When applied topically, the fluoride can go on specific sensitive areas, over the entire surface of the teeth, or be applied as a sealant to protect your tooth enamel and guard against cavities and inflammation. Your dentist will recommend the best type of fluoride for your unique needs. Many kinds of toothpaste and mouthwashes contain fluoride, so switching to fluoride-containing dental products can significantly improve your sensitive teeth.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

Although hidden health issues can cause sensitive teeth, that’s not the most common cause. More frequently, sensitive teeth are due to the following:

  1. Aggressive brushing habits with a firm-bristled toothbrush: Try using a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle pressure when you brush. Be sure to floss before or after brushing so that you get any food particles your brushing missed.
  2. Acidic foods: Citrus fruits and beverages can increase tooth pain, so avoid citrus fruits and juices, pickles, tomatoes, and icy beverages. If you consume them, then rinse well with water afterward, so the acid doesn’t remain on your teeth.
  3. Alcohol: Alcohol and some other products in your mouthwash can aggravate sensitive teeth, so switch to formulas made for sensitive teeth.
  4. Bruxism: Tooth-grinding at night can cause serious damage to your teeth. It can wear down the enamel and cause chips and cracks in your teeth. Ask your dentist about a custom night guard that will protect your tooth enamel at night. Be sure to get it from your dentist, though, don’t get a generic night guard from the local pharmacy. The generic ones won’t fit well, they’ll be uncomfortable, and they may fall out during the night.
  5. Cracked or chipped teeth: If you have cracks in your teeth or if they’re chipped, they can compromise the protection that your tooth enamel provides. They can also allow bacteria to enter your tooth and cause decay. Any cracks or chips should be treated promptly for the best and simplest treatment.
  6. Receding gums: If you have receding gums from gum disease, then get professional dental treatment without delay. Gum disease can cause you to lose all your teeth, but if you get gingivitis treated in its early stages, then it’s completely curable. Your dentist can treat the inflammation that causes gum disease and apply a sealant to your teeth.
  7. Filling failure: If you notice decay around the base of an old filling, you may have a filling failure, and bacteria may have started the decay process. Make an appointment with your dentist without delay for the best results. When promptly treated, you should only need to have the old filling removed and replaced.
  8. Tooth-whitening products: If your goal is whiter teeth, then the tooth-whitening products you use may be causing your tooth pain. Try switching to formulations for sensitive teeth to see if that helps. Your dentist may have recommendations or suggest prescription products that will help.
  9. Recent dental procedures: If you’ve recently had any dental procedures, you may notice a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity. However, this shouldn’t last for more than a few days. If it does, then contact your dentist to ensure that you haven’t developed an infection or another complication.

If you’ve suddenly developed tooth sensitivity, or even if you’ve had it for a while, you should make an appointment with your dentist to ensure that there’s not an underlying health problem that’s causing it.

How Can I Help My Sensitive Teeth?

Your dentist may recommend some special dental hygiene products that can reduce your tooth sensitivity, but in the meantime, you can try the following:

  • Make regular dental cleanings and checkups part of your oral hygiene routine. Yearly is good. Twice-yearly is even better.
  • Make your dental hygiene routine a priority. Many times, it’s tempting to skip it at night when you’re exhausted or in the morning when you’re short on time. Don’t skimp on your oral hygiene routine, and don’t skip it. Make your oral health as important as your physical health for the best health possible.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle pressure when you brush. Be sure to floss either before or after you brush so no food particles remain between your teeth.
  • Use toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride and are formulated for sensitive teeth.
  • Avoid foods that exacerbate your pain, such as citrus fruits and beverages, icy beverages, and sugary foods and beverages. If you consume any of these, rinse your mouth with plain water as soon as possible so that the acids don’t remain on your tooth enamel.
  • If you have bruxism, wear a custom nightguard to protect your tooth enamel overnight.

When you know how to help your sensitive teeth, you can minimize their impact on your daily life. Make an appointment with your South Bend dentist for additional information and tips on treating and curing your sensitive teeth.

Are There Dental Tips To Help Sensitive Teeth?

Nothing will replace the advice of your dentist, who has decades of training and expertise. However, the following tips may help:

  1. Ask about desensitizing toothpaste and mouthwash. They’re different from products formulated for sensitive teeth because desensitizing products protect the roots and nerves rather than using substances that don’t aggravate them.
  2. Ask about fluoride, whether in supplement form or as a topical application or sealant. Fluoride can strengthen your tooth enamel, which will deter future episodes of sensitive teeth.
  3. Ask about solutions for your receding gums. If they’re due to gum disease, then seek immediate treatment, so you don’t jeopardize your other teeth.

Sensitive teeth and gums are treatable as well as avoidable, so don’t suffer in silence. Ask your South Bend dentist about treatments and recommendations that will enable you to resume the active lifestyle you want and eat the foods you enjoy. When you take proper care of your teeth, they can last for your lifetime, and you’ll never need dentures or implants.

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