How to care for sensitive teeth

October 24, 2014

If you suffer from sensitive teeth, here are some ways to avoid triggering episodes, as well as tips for preventing tooth sensitivity from recurring.

How to care for sensitive teeth

What causes tooth sensitivity?

If you've ever gotten a sharp pain in your teeth when drinking a cup of coffee or eating an ice cream cone, then you've experienced tooth sensitivity. While it's commonly triggered by biting into foods served at extreme temperatures or with spicy flavour components, tooth sensitivity can also be triggered by something as simple as breathing in cold air.

  • Typically, tooth sensitivity is caused by thinning enamel, or by an exposed nerve ending in the dentinal tubules, which protect a network of roots and nerves.
  • When its outer layer of protection is missing, a tooth is especially vulnerable to heat and cold, as well as acidity and spices.
  • Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by underlying dental problems such as root canal issues, teeth grinding, filling breakage or cavities.

Preventing and treating tooth sensitivity

While tooth sensitivity can be painful, the good news is that, in many cases, it can be easily treated with a few over-the-counter remedies. Here are some of the best ways to deal with your sensitive teeth:

Toothpaste: One of the best and easiest ways to avoid tooth sensitivity is to use a toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes work by either blocking the sensation to the dentinal tubules, or by desensitizing the nerve endings. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth are readily available over the counter at any grocery store or pharmacy.

Dental rinses: Fluoride-based dental rinses can be an effective treatment, especially if you use one that's recommended for sensitive teeth. For best results, use the rinse at least once a day after brushing.

Toothbrushes: To help protect your tooth enamel, switch to soft-bristled toothbrushes. If you prefer an electric toothbrush, be sure to use one with a soft-pressure setting.

Diet: During episodes of tooth sensitivity, it's also a good idea to avoid triggers such as hot and cold foods and spicy dishes. Don't worry, you won't have to forgo ice cream and coffee forever, it's just best to hold off on them until your teeth become less sensitive.

Finally, it's crucial to make regular trips to the dentist. This is especially true because your tooth sensitivity could be a symptom of tooth disease, gum decay or some other underlying problem.

By talking to your dentist, you can find the best way to treat your sensitive teeth, and prevent tooth sensitivity from recurring again.

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