7 Tips for Dealing with Sensitive Teeth
Having sensitive teeth can – literally – be a pain. Eating ice cream, sipping coffee, or even just biting into your dinner can send shockwaves of pain through your jaw, setting you up for a bad mood.
There are several causes of tooth sensitivity, including:
- Cavities or other decay
- Worn fillings
- Gum disease
- Worn tooth enamel
- Cracked teeth
- Exposed tooth roots
No matter the cause, you need to be able to get through your daily life without worrying that something you eat or drink is going to result in searing pain. Here are 7 tips for dealing with sensitive teeth:
Change Your Brushing Routine
Do you use a hard-bristled toothbrush, scrub at your teeth, or don’t brush for the full 2 minutes? Your brushing habits could be contributing to your tooth sensitivity. Improper brushing can, over time, wear away at the enamel on your teeth, causing them to become more sensitive. Switch to a softer-bristled brush, go easy on the pressure, and make sure you’re brushing for a full 2 minutes to keep the enamel on your teeth healthy. Also, don’t brush right after you eat; studies have shown that waiting at least 30 minutes after eating is best. Otherwise, you may push acids from you food farther into the dentin layer on your teeth, increasing sensitivity and decay.
Wear a Mouthguard
If you grind or grit your teeth often, this creates pressure on the nerves in your gums, which can cause tooth sensitivity. Try wearing a mouth guard at night if you grind your teeth in your sleep. If your trigger is stress, take a stretch break or do something else to calm yourself to avoid clamping down on your jaw. And if you have an underlying condition that causes you to grit your teeth, such as TMD, talk to your dentist about ways you can correct it to help decrease your tooth sensitivity.
Take Care of Dental Problems
Gum disease, tooth decay, unfilled cavities, and fractured teeth all can lead to sore, sensitive teeth. If you try other things to decrease your tooth sensitivity without taking care of your underlying dental problem, the sensitivity isn’t going to get better. Seeing your dentist and getting all necessary dental treatments is the only way to improve sensitivity in these situations.
Red wine, soda, fruit juices, and foods such as citrus fruits and pickles can eat away at the enamel on your teeth. When the enamel goes away, your teeth are left defenseless and more susceptible to pain. Decreasing the amount of acidic food and drinks you consume – or eliminating them entirely – can help with your tooth pain.
Switch Toothpaste & Mouthwash
All toothpastes are not created equal, especially when you have sensitive teeth. Switching from a plain toothpaste to one formulated specifically for those with tooth sensitivity can help. Additionally, consider adding a high-fluoride mouthwash into your routine, as fluoride can help rebuild the enamel your teeth have lost.
Avoid Tooth Whiteners
Many over-the-counter tooth whiteners have compounds, such as hydrogen peroxide, that can be harmful to anyone with already compromised tooth enamel. And, if you’ve got teeth discolored enough that you’re considering tooth whitening, chances are good your enamel isn’t in the best shape, either. If you must whiten your teeth, talk to your dentist about getting it done professionally and skip the drugstore gels.
Ask for Fluoride Paint
If you’ve tried switching up your brushing routine and avoiding acidic foods but aren’t seeing much change, ask your dentist about painted-on barriers that could strengthen your teeth. Fluoride varnish and plastic resins can be added to the sensitive areas of your teeth, protecting them. These coatings do wear off, anywhere from a couple months to a couple years later, so they will need to be reapplied once you begin to experience sensitivity again.
Experienced Dentists in Washington, D.C.
With more than 45 years of combined dental experience, the dentists at L’Enfant Plaza Dental Arts in the heart of Washington, D.C., can help you decrease your tooth sensitivity and get back to enjoying all your favorite foods. We are conveniently located within walking distance of many D.C. office buildings, meaning you can stop by on your lunch break for all your dental needs. Schedule your appointment today!