One of the most common dental complaints we hear involves sensitive teeth. People of all ages are affected. Whether it’s biting into a cold ice cream cone or drinking a hot beverage, the pain that can come from hypersensitivity can be more than an inconvenience.
Several things can cause sensitive teeth:
- Cracked or fractured teeth
- Missing or worn fillings
- Gum disease
Each of these needs to be treated by a dentist. Ignoring tooth sensitivity or expecting it to get better on its own can cause problems to compound and bring on even more pain. By far, the most common cause of tooth sensitivity is exposed dentin, the soft tissue just below the hard enamel that protects your teeth. Dentin can be exposed by one of the causes listed above, or simply because it has worn away as a result of abrasion.
This article from the American Dental Association addresses several of the treatments available for tooth sensitivity.
If your tooth sensitivity is mild, and if a dental visit has shown no need for advanced medical treatment, there are a few steps you can take yourself to help control or even eliminate pain. You might consider the following:
Use toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth.
Because most sensitivity is caused by exposed dentin, many types of toothpaste made for this purpose work by filling in the microscopic channels in the dentin.
Use a mouthwash with fluoride.
Mild gum disease, which again causes an exposure of the dentin, can often be treated by the regular use of a fluoride rinse. This will help to strengthen the enamel on your teeth and reduce the bacteria that is attacking your teeth and gums.
Stop using medium or hard toothbrushes.
Your toothbrush should be one with soft bristles as most of us already use too much force when brushing. This can further wear away enamel and cause greater sensitivity.
Start brushing and flossing regularly.
If you aren’t brushing twice a day, as well as flossing, you should start. The buildup of plaque on your teeth creates an acid that makes already sensitive teeth even more sensitive.