The best way to prevent tooth sensitivity is through proper oral hygiene. This includes brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing daily.
When teeth become sensitive, it is usually due to damage to enamel or exposed nerves. A variety of treatment options are available for this condition.
1. Salt Water Rinse
A salt water rinse is one of the most simple home remedies for sensitive teeth. To make a rinse, mix two teaspoons of salt into a glass of warm water and swish the solution around your mouth for about ten seconds before spitting it out. Rinsing your mouth with a salt water solution three to four times a day may help reduce tooth pain symptoms. However, too much salt can negatively affect your tooth enamel.
Salt water rinses increase the pH level of your mouth, making it more alkaline and reducing bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. Rinses also promote gum healing by encouraging gingival fibroblast migration and increasing extracellular matrix components.
If you have painful teeth, a dentist can help you find relief with a variety of solutions, including sensitive toothpaste, a dental filling or a gum graft. For more information, contact Tompkins Dental today.
2. Over-the-Counter Desensitizing Toothpaste
If you don’t have a dental appointment scheduled in the near future, and your sensitivity is minor, you can use over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste to reduce the pain. These products contain compounds like potassium nitrate and stannous fluoride that help prevent the transmission of pain signals from the tooth’s surface to its nerve.
Vigorous brushing is a common cause of sensitive teeth because it strips the enamel away, exposing the nerves inside. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and brushing gently in circular motions can prevent this type of sensitivity.
You can also try using a fluoride rinse as part of your daily routine. These rinses are available without a prescription at most pharmacies and the dental section of many grocery stores. They are typically mixed with water or swished in the mouth for 30 seconds to help decrease sensitivity. If these home treatments don’t give you relief from your sensitive teeth, talk to your dentist about other options.
3. Fluoride Gel
Tooth sensitivity can be painful and affect a wide range of everyday activities. Fortunately, there are many effective teeth sensitivity treatments that can help.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce tooth decay. It can be found in many foods and water sources. It is also available as a topical treatment at the dentist’s office.
The fluoride in gel treatment is absorbed into the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid erosion. This reduces tooth sensitivity and other dental problems like cavities.
It is important to follow the instructions on the label when using fluoride gel. Too much can cause tooth fluorosis, a condition that results in white spots on the teeth. It is also important to brush the teeth and rinse the mouth thoroughly after using the gel. Be sure to keep the fluoride out of reach of children, as swallowing can be dangerous.
4. Gum Graft
Gum disease is one of the most common causes of sensitive teeth. The condition causes the gum tissue to shrink, which can expose the roots of the tooth and cause sensitivity. A surgical gum graft can restore lost tissue to cover the roots and reduce sensitivity.
The treatment works by sealing off nerve pathways that transmit sensations to the brain. It may take a few weeks for the area to heal after surgery, so patients should use over-the-counter pain medications.
If you have sensitive teeth, you can prevent recurring problems by practicing proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily. Avoid grinding your teeth, and ask for a mouth guard if you grind or clench your jaw. In addition, limit your intake of acidic foods and beverages, which can wear down enamel and lead to sensitivity.
5. Dental Fillings
If your tooth sensitivity is caused by a dental filling, the good news is that it usually resolves on its own. If the sensitivity persists, contact your dentist for advice.
In some cases, a tooth filling can cause sensitivity if it is too high relative to the surrounding teeth. This causes a misalignment in your bite, which can result in extra pressure when biting down. A dentist can easily reduce the height of the filling to eliminate this type of sensitivity.
Properly done fillings help shield the inner layers of the tooth from heat, cold, sugar, acid and pressure. However, fractured filling edges or leaking can lead to sensitivity and should be addressed promptly. Visiting your dentist regularly can allow them to identify potential problems before they become severe. This is especially important if you have sensitive teeth that are also prone to cracked or chipped teeth.
6. Root Canal
Tooth sensitivity is a sign of tooth decay, enamel erosion (wear and tear) or gum recession. It can also be a symptom of a cracked or broken tooth.
A root canal is a treatment that eliminates tooth pain caused by inflamed, infected or dead dental pulp. The procedure involves numbing the tooth for your comfort, opening the tooth, removing the damaged nerve tissue, cleaning and shaping each canal that leads to the tooth’s center and sealing it with rubber-like material.
After a root canal the tooth will no longer feel cold sensitive because all of the nerves have been removed, but if it does reappear, there could be another problem. It could mean that a nerve was missed or it may be due to a very high temporary filling. It is sometimes easy to mix up which tooth feels the cold because of gum recession, or a crown on the adjacent tooth that can cause similar symptoms.