Have you ever got a nice, refreshing cold soda, a cone of your favorite ice cream, tried eating a piece of beef jerky, or a hard candy, only to find out that consuming it was painful?
You might be suffering from tooth sensitivity, a condition that affects 1 in 8 people at some point in their lives. At Cashmere Family Dentistry, we’ve helped many patients with tooth sensitivity and understand how frustrating it can be to have it. The good news is that there are some ways to alleviate the pain. But before we dive into that, let’s first examine what it is.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Essentially, tooth sensitivity is pretty much what it sounds like — an area of the mouth that is sensitive when it comes in contact with anything. On a more technical level, it is when the dentin layer of your teeth or the cementum layer of your root becomes exposed. The layers become exposed when the enamel is worn down or from receding gums. It can make it hard to eat and hurt to breathe! Like in our earlier example, most people notice tooth sensitivity when they breathe in through their mouth or try to eat or drink something really cold or hot, like ice cream and coffee. Spicy and sweet food can also locate a sensitive area for you too!
But How Do They Even Become Exposed?
There are a few causes for the exposure that results in sensitive teeth. Let’s look at a few of them:
- Brushing your teeth too hard for too long cause scrub the protective enamel away and wear down the gum tissue.
- Grinding the teeth
- Many people grind their teeth when asleep or stressed, but did you know that you also grind away your enamel?
- Gum disease
- Gingivitis and other gum issues cause the gums to pull away from the teeth and expose the roots! Improper or inconsistent oral care can allow for a build of bacteria and plaque that causes infection.
- If you consume a lot of acidic or sugary foods and drinks, you could be eroding the protective layers of your teeth.
- Mouthwash can make or break your routine. A bad mouthwash poorly covers bad breath and wears down the enamel.
- Whitening products
- The ingredients of these products do a fantastic job of removing stains from the teeth and making them look beautiful. Unfortunately, these same ingredients also erode your enamel! In this case, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!
- Also, cracked teeth, cavities, dental procedures, and more!
How Can I Treat Tooth Sensitivity Once It Starts?
When something hurts, a common response is to leave it alone. It feels like your body is saying, “Hey! Stop that!” However, doing nothing can make the cause of your tooth sensitivity worse!
How to help from home:
If you stop brushing and flossing when you notice the pain, your already sensitive teeth and gums can become overrun with bacteria and germs. This could lead to an infection along the gumline or tooth decay, which can increase your pain and worsen the original issue! It’s important to continue to brush and floss twice a day.
Here are other some tips to help from home:
- Consider trying toothpaste for sensitivity or a soft-bristled toothbrush if you are struggling to maintain your routine because of discomfort.
- Use an automatic toothbrush with a timer and pressure sensor. These toothbrushes, such as the Philips ExpertClean for example, let you know when you are brushing too hard and alert you when you need to move to a new spot in the mouth. They also have different modes for cleaning and a light notification to tell you it is time to change the toothbrush head. Some toothbrushes even have apps that help you improve your toothbrushing technique!
- Invest in a water flosser. These devices use streams of water to clean the mouth effectively. They are perfect for orthodontic patients because they help clean hard-to-reach places in the mouth and remove stubborn food particles. To give you an idea, have you ever had a piece of popcorn stuck between your teeth that no amount of brushing or flossing had any effect on t whatsoever? A water flosser could remove that in seconds! They also help keep the gumline and teeth clean of plaque and bacteria. (Note: These are to be used in addition to thread flossing and not as a replacement!)
- Adjust your diet. Try to remove acidic and sugary foods and drinks that wear down your enamel and irritate the gums.
- Brush gently along the gumline to remove plaque.
Don’t hesitate to ask if you are unsure about what products to use or how to care for your teeth properly! We are committed to helping you be healthy and have a smile you are proud of.
How your dentist can help:
Our professional and experienced team at Cashmere Family Dentistry can provide you with various treatments to reduce or remove your tooth sensitivity. The best solution depends on the cause, but below are some of the treatments we might suggest.
- Desensitizing toothpaste blocks the transmission of pain from the tooth to the nerve. It is not a numbing cream, so it may take a few uses before you notice a difference.
- Fluoride gel helps strengthen the enamel. Stronger enamel means lower sensitivity! This in-office treatment soothes pain and helps prevent it from coming back.
- We can also do crowns, inlays, and fillings to fix any damage to the teeth that causes sensitivity and pain.
- A surgical gum graft can cover and protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
- In severe cases, we will perform a root canal to remove the infected pulp and inflamed root.
This is not an all-inclusive list! There are other ways to treat tooth sensitivity. If your discomfort does not go away after some home treatment, make an appointment to be examined by a dentist.
Get Rid of Tooth Sensitivity with Cashmere Family Dentistry Today!
The first step in solving your tooth sensitivity is getting to the cementum of the issue. (Get it? Because it covers the roots of the teeth?) Call or visit our office to schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled dentists. At Cashmere Family Dentistry, we are passionate about your oral healthcare, comfort, and quality of life! Once we find the cause, we will help you solve the issue and create a plan to prevent a reoccurrence.
There’s no need to tough it out! We look forward to seeing you soon!