If you have sensitive teeth, you are not alone-, as it is estimated that 60% of all Americans have the same problem. It seems that women are 1.8 times more likely to have this condition than men.
You may wonder what the cause is, but the fact is that when the areas of the tooth called the dentin and enamel get worn away, the exposed nerves start to complain. This leads to pain, throbbing and a general sense of discomfort.
Those sensitive areas of the teeth can be damaged by various things such as food, an inadequate toothbrush, high or low temperatures and receding gums. Here are 10 useful tips if you have this problem yourself.
1. Prevent plaque build up with softer brush strokes.
If you neglect to brush your teeth, then there is a risk of plaque building up on the tooth surface. This plaque hardens and also releases an acidic substance which can damage your tooth enamel.
Make sure you are brushing with gentle up and down strokes and that you are using a softer toothbrush. There is no need to brush so vigorously. The important thing is to brush gently for about two minutes.
2. Switch to a sensitive teeth toothpaste.
This is not guaranteed to work, but it can save you an extra trip to the dentist and lots of money too. Look for a brand of toothpaste which is particularly designed to care for sensitive teeth.
They usually contain potassium nitrate and strontium chloride, which both help to desensitize the nerve endings in the dentin areas. You have to go on using this toothpaste on a more or less permanent basis if it is to work properly.
3. Change your mouthwash to a high flouride variety.
The experts tell us that fluoride can actually strengthen tooth enamel which has been compromised by the bacterial acids. Researchers have found that when fluoride is present, it prohibits the bacteria that causes tooth decay from sticking, so that brushing and cleaning with saliva will be more efficient.
The next time you buy a mouthwash and toothpaste, check the label for fluoride. Dental experts in the UK recommend that children up to the age of three should use toothpaste which has a fluoride concentration of at least 1,000 parts per million
4. Stop grinding your teeth.
You may not know it, but if you grind your teeth when you are asleep, you are multiplying your chances of having sensitive teeth, which will then cause you considerable discomfort. It is estimated that one in three people suffer from this condition.
If you are aware of this problem (bruxism), ask your dentist to make you a mouth guard which you can wear while sleeping. It is an excellent, long term investment. The man in the photo above used to suffer from bruxism until he got a guard made for him. This explains the very even teeth.
5. Be careful about teeth whitening gimmicks.
Although teeth whitening should not damage your teeth, there are some studies that show that if the concoction contains hydrogen peroxide, it might cause problems. Dentists should warn people that some alterations to tooth enamel might be an issue.
If you have had restoration work done and have almagams, there is also a risk that some spotting and minor color changes could occur. Before deciding to do your own whitening program, it is always better to ask your dentist what product he or she recommends. And there are also natural ways to whiten teeth.
6. Avoid acidic foods and drinks.
You cannot avoid these completely, but it is no harm to reduce your intake. The most common acidic food and drinks to avoid are fizzy drinks like Coke, citrus fruits like oranges, wine, vinegar, salad dressing, and yogurt.
A useful tip is to use a straw when you drink acidic liquids. You can also rinse your mouth with water or milk after eating some acidic food as this can reduce the acid levels floating around your teeth.
7. Think carefully about when to brush your teeth.
You might think it is perfectly normal to brush your teeth straight after eating. But if you want to avoid the problem of sensitive teeth, you should think again.
Experts now tell us that it is better to wait half an hour before doing so. Why? The reason is that brushing too soon can actually push all that acid deeper into the dentin layer.
8. Ask your dentist for a fluoride paint job.
If you have tried everything and nothing seems to give you relief, ask your dentist if he would consider applying fluoride gel or varnish to your teeth. You will have to go for several appointments so that the layers of fluoride can settle and build you a protective shield around the delicate dentin areas.
9. Make your own toothpaste shield.
If your sensitive teeth are bothering you before bedtime, try to apply your special toothpaste with your index finger to the sensitive tooth or teeth.
Then, let it set by keeping your mouth open. The best way to seal it is to use some sugar free chewing gum. This will give you relief while you sleep.
10. Ask your dentist about a gum graft.
If you still cannot get relief from the suggestions above, it may be time to consider what dental procedures might provide lasting relief. Usually, dentists recommend root canal treatment which can usually solve the problem.
If the pain is caused by a loss of gum tissue and the roots are exposed, it may be wise to consider a surgical gum graft. There may be excess gum tissue which can be grafted on to the extra sensitive tooth. And luckily, solution may resolve the problem once and for all.
Sensitive teeth can be a problem for any age group, from teenage to the elderly although most people seem to experience this problem between the ages of 20 – 40. Whatever your age though, it is important to take action either by using some of the simple home remedies above or by getting in-office dental treatment.
Featured photo credit: Day 227/SuperFantastic via flickr.com
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