If you experience sharp, transient pain after brushing, eating, and drinking, you may have tooth sensitivity. Around 40 million Americans suffer from the condition and if severe, it can disrupt your life significantly.
Here are a few ideas you can use to deal with sensitive teeth.
1. Ensure regular dental visits.
Visiting a dentist like the Australian Dental Specialists is extremely important in dealing with sensitivity. That’s because some causes of sensitivity — such as gum disease — require medical attention. If you try to treat your sensitivity without getting to the root causes, you’ll fail.
Your dentist may suggest you the following treatments for tooth sensitivity:
- Fluoride — many dental products are fortified with fluoride because it helps prevent tooth decay. In the context of sensitivity, your dentist may apply it over sensitive areas of your teeth to strengthen your enamel (which is the part of the teeth that shows when you smile)
- Bonding — this involves applying a bonding resin over sensitive areas
- Gum graft — this is a surgical procedure that involves replacing lost gum tissue with gum tissue from another part of your mouth. When you lose your gums, the sensitive areas of your teeth get exposed, causing pain with eating and drinking
- Desensitizing toothpaste — most desensitizing toothpastes contain potassium nitrate, which blocks pain signals from travelling from your teeth to your brain. Your doctor may prescribe you one of them.
- Root canal — if all else fails, your dentist will suggest this. It’s a somewhat invasive procedure and is used to treat problems that involve the pulp of your teeth. However, you should know that it’s the most successful treatment for sensitive teeth!
But while you await your dentist’s appointment, there are some other basic tips you can use to deal with sensitive teeth. Here are some.
2. Correct your brushing technique.
A wrong brushing technique is very common. It’s not only ineffective against tooth decay, but can also actively harm your teeth (and cause sensitivity).
Many people apply too much force when brushing their teeth in an attempt at better cleaning. But experts recommend applying no force at all — or applying minimal force. That’s because when you press too hard, you damage the enamel and can expose more sensitive parts of your teeth. This leads to sensitivity.
So make sure you brush lightly, and employ short, circular strokes.
3. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Choosing the right toothbrush is part of correcting your brushing technique. One toothbrush feature that’s super-important in the context of sensitivity is bristle softness.
When you go out to buy a toothbrush, you’ll find mainly two types. Hard bristles and soft bristles. Avoid hard bristles like the plague. Just like with applying too much brushing force, hard bristles can damage the enamel of your teeth and expose more sensitive areas.
Another helpful idea is to get a small toothbrush, so it can easily reach all parts of your mouth.
4. Check your diet.
Certain foods like coffee, sodas, pickles, and citrus fruits contain acid and can worsen tooth sensitivity, and it’s best to avoid them.
Ideally, you should eliminate things like sodas and desserts from your diet altogether if you want long-lasting teeth, but if that’s something too difficult, at least avoid these items until your dentist can work out a more permanent solution for you.
5. Consider a mouthguard.
One cause of tooth sensitivity is bruxism, which is involuntary grinding of teeth some people experience while sleeping.
The simplest way to deal with bruxism is to wear a mouthguard while sleeping, which will prevent teeth grinding on teeth, and reduce inflammation and sensitivity.
For increased comfort, you can ask your doctor to make a custom mouthguard for you.
6. Use a rinse.
There are many natural ingredients that can be used to prepare a rinse at home. Many of these work by reducing inflammation in the mouth, which helps with tooth sensitivity.
Perhaps the simplest of these is salt water rinse. Simply take half a tablespoon of salt and dissolve it in lukewarm water. Swish it inside your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out.
If that doesn’t work for you, consider rinsing with hydrogen peroxide, which is a powerful antiseptic. Dilute hydrogen peroxide with water before using it as a rinse, and after you use it, rinse your mouth with water to make sure none of the antiseptic is left behind.
Finally, if you think you may have bacterial overgrowth in your mouth (a common cause of sensitive teeth), consider rinsing your mouth with coconut oil. This is called oil pulling, and in addition to whitening your teeth over time, it breaks down plaque, toxins, and germs on the surface of your teeth. This helps with sensitivity.
7. Use the power of turmeric and garlic.
Both garlic and turmeric are natural edible foods with anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric has a very potent (and popular) anti-inflammatory molecule called curcumin, while garlic has allicin.
You can use either of the two to make a paste (by adding some water and salt) and apply it directly over sensitive areas of your teeth to reduce pain and inflammation.
Just a word of caution: garlic gives you bad breath, so make sure to use a mouthwash or brush your teeth before going out!
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