If you have ever experienced tooth sensitivity you know it is painful but you may not know that there are things you and your orthodontist or dentist can do to alleviate the pain and prevent further sensitivity. Once you are aware of how to protect the teeth and what the pain triggers are, you can avoid unnecessary discomfort.
Why are teeth so sensitive in the first place? Teeth are covered in a protective layer called enamel and below that is dentin. The Dentin layer is filed with tubules that connect to the nerves. If the enamel layer is removed, it exposes the tubules and the painful nerve endings. There are many ways the enamel layer can wear down and many triggers for tooth sensitivity. As you age, your enamel erodes from daily food consumption and dental hygiene. If you do not remove the plaque on your teeth and develop cavities, receding gums, gingivitis, inflammation and trauma from accidents like broken or chipped teeth can cause pain. Certain foods such as acidic citrus fruits and veggies like tomato sauce, wine, orange juice, coffee and tea can cause pain. Sticky sweet foods and hot or cold beverages or food can cause sensitivity. Even exposure to cold air when you breathe through your mouth can trigger a reaction. Dental procedures from tooth polishing to orthodontics can cause tooth pain. If the protective saliva in your mouth dries up (especially while you sleep) your teeth can become overly sensitive. Tooth whitening chemicals (at home and in the dental office) remove the stains from the enamel and expose the tubules of the dentin layer.
At home, you can brush after all meals with fluoride toothpaste that is designed to combat sensitivity by filling the tops of the tubules and desensitizing the nerves over time as it fortifies the enamel layer. Remember to use a soft toothbrush and gentle strokes to avoid brushing aggressively, floss daily, use antiseptic mouthwash and limit exposure to trigger foods and beverages. If you clench or grind your teeth while you sleep, utilize a mouth guard to keep teeth from eroding and dab a small amount of sensitive toothpaste on your weak spots before bed. Book dental visits every 6 months but see your dentist sooner if sensitivity increases.
Dental Office Treatments
Your dentist or hygienist can apply a dentin sealer to coat sensitive teeth before beginning dental procedures and cleanings, apply bonding or varnishes to teeth that do not respond to sensitive toothpaste and they can supply you with a feather soft toothbrush; which is gentle on teeth and gums. Discuss tooth sensitivity with your hygienist or dentist before they begin procedures and let them know what you have tried and how well it is working for you. There are options to relieve tooth sensitivity and that will make your pearly whites smile with joy!