What Can I Do about Sensitive Teeth?

Tooth sensitivity is not normal, and it isn’t something that you just have to live with.  You should not have to eat and drink everything at room temperature because you want to avoid the twinges of pain caused by hot and cold temperatures.  Are you ready to take action against sensitive teeth?

Step One: Talk to your dentist.

The reason this is step one is because you cannot adequately treat sensitivity without understanding its cause.  It is essential for your dentist to rule out any potential diseases that cause sensitive teeth, like large cavities, cracked teeth, and gum disease.  If any of those are present, you will have to take care of them in order to treat the sensitivity.  Otherwise, any other sensitivity treatments will not really help.

If your dentist is able to rule out any disease, and you have simple hypersensitivity, then he can recommend several different treatment options and both prescription and over-the-counter products that can help relieve your symptoms.

Step Two: Follow through on any recommended treatment or products.

What kind of treatment or products will help disease-free sensitive teeth?  For treatments, it depends on the cause.  If your sensitivity is the result of gum recession and exposed tooth roots, you can treat either the gums or the roots.  Some people elect to reposition their gum tissues in order to re-cover the roots with a gum surgery.  Others choose to place a barrier over the exposed roots in the form of a bonded tooth-colored filling.  These are relatively aggressive treatments and typically only recommended after options that are more conservative prove ineffective.

There are many products aimed at treating sensitive teeth, some of which are prescription only.  By seeing your dentist about sensitivity, you open your options to include these prescription products.  You can always let us know that you’d like to start with over-the-counter options first.  Then if you do not notice an improvement, you can move forward with a prescription-strength product.

The important thing is that you do follow through with recommendations.  By closely following the instructions, you can relieve the pain of sensitive teeth.

Step Three: Avoid habits that worsen sensitivity.

Did you know that you could be aggravating your sensitive teeth?  Here are the biggest culprits in worsening sensitivity and what you should do to avoid them.

Whitening Toothpaste

We know . . . you all want whiter teeth.  The problem with whitening toothpaste is that it is abrasive.  It can worsen sensitivity by thinning the enamel and abrading the exposed roots.  Anyone with sensitive teeth should stay far away from whitening toothpastes.  We recommend using either prescription toothpaste or those made for sensitive teeth.

Acidic Foods and Drinks

A lesser-known cause of sensitivity is acid erosion.  Many people suffer from thin, weak enamel as the result of erosion from either stomach acid or strongly acidic diets.  People who have severe acid reflux of GERD have a consistently low pH in the mouth, which erodes away tooth enamel.  This can also occur when people eat or drink acids frequently, like lime and lemon juice, tomato products, and all sparkling drinks.

As enamel becomes thinner, it provides less insulation for the nerve within the tooth.  This means that it is easier for the nerve to sense extreme temperatures.

Heavy Teeth Clenching and/or Grinding

Another cause of sensitivity is nighttime bruxism, which is the scientific term for teeth clenching and/or grinding.  There are two ways that bruxism leads to sensitivity: 1) predisposing teeth to cracks in the enamel, and 2) aggravating the nerve within the tooth, making it hypersensitive.  You can prevent this cause of sensitivity by wearing a protective nightguard to separate your teeth and stop those heavy forces.

Step Four: Keep up with great oral hygiene and consistent dental check-ups.

This step relates more to maintenance than treatment.  By seeing your dentist regularly, we can help you prevent sensitive teeth.  We catch red flags of developing problems, like cavities, cracked teeth and gum recession, which could lead to sensitivity.  We also recommend preventive treatment options to stop problems before the start.

More Questions about Sensitive Teeth?

Call 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He will evaluate your entire mouth to look for the exact causes of your sensitivity and give you multiple options to begin alleviating it.

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