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Manatee Dental of East Bradenton
3805 State Road 64 East, Bradenton, FL 34208

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Understanding Sensitive Teeth

If hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods make your teeth hurt, then you may have sensitive teeth. For some, cold air can generate the same type of pain. If avoiding your outdoor activities and the foods you enjoy doesn’t sound appealing, then learn how to treat and stop your tooth sensitivity.

If you have sensitive teeth, you can be miserable throughout the day. Routine activities like your oral hygiene regimen, trips outside, or having a meal or snack become exercises in pain management rather than enjoyable activities. Fortunately, with a few simple modifications to your lifestyle habits, you can eliminate the pain of sensitive teeth and resume eating your favorite foods and participating in your favorite outdoor activities.

Sensitive teeth often occur as a response to eroded tooth enamel, although there can be other causes. If you have tooth decay or a cracked tooth, it can also cause your teeth to become overly sensitive. Gum disease causes your gums to recede and expose the tooth nerve, which can be very painful. Aggressive brushing habits can erode your tooth enamel so that your teeth will become overly sensitive. The first step in treating sensitive teeth is determining the underlying cause, so you may need an appointment with your Bradenton dentist.

While you’re waiting for your appointment, there are measures you can take – other than avoidance – to alleviate your tooth pain. You can switch to a toothpaste and mouthwash specifically formulated for sensitive teeth, and if they contain fluoride, that’s even better. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, so you may notice less pain within a few days when you combine fluoride with the sensitive-teeth formulation. Your dentist may be able to apply topical fluoride to specific areas on specific teeth, as an overall application on all your teeth, or as a sealant to block irritants from reaching your tooth nerves. As a last resort, your dentist may recommend a root canal and cap.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

Although genetics can play a role in tooth sensitivity, the following are more common causes:

  1. Overly aggressive brushing habits: If you use a firm-bristled toothbrush and a firm pressure, you may damage your tooth enamel. Change to a soft-bristled toothbrush and use gentle pressure.
  2. Acidic foods: If sweet or acidic foods cause tooth pain, then avoid citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, iced coffee, and any other food or beverage that’s high in acid or sugar.
  3. Bruxism: Also called tooth grinding, bruxism erodes your tooth enamel and can cause cracks and chips that will allow bacteria to enter and start the process of tooth decay.
  4. Cracked or chipped teeth: If any of your teeth are cracked or chipped, make a dental appointment without delay. A chip or crack can allow bacteria to enter, and you’ll have tooth decay. When treated early, chips or cracks are easily repaired.
  5. Failed filling: If you notice decay around the base of a filling, then make a dental appointment right away. Your filling has probably failed and needs to be replaced.
  6. Tooth-whiteners: If tooth-whitening ingredients cause pain for your sensitive teeth, then use tooth-whitening toothpaste and mouthwash that are formulated for sensitive teeth.
  7. Alcohol: Mouthwash or toothpaste that contain alcohol or other ingredients may cause tooth pain, so switch to formulas made for sensitive teeth.
  8. Receding gums: If you have receding gums from gum disease, then you should immediately see your dentist. Gingivitis is a serious oral disease that can be easily treated and cured when it’s caught early. Otherwise, it can progress to periodontal disease and ultimately cause you to lose your teeth. If receding gums have exposed your tooth nerve, your dentist may suggest a gum graft to remedy the problem.
  9. Recent dental procedure: Dental procedures can temporarily cause an increase in overall tooth sensitivity, but it should disappear within a few days. If it doesn’t, then contact your dentist because you may have developed an infection.

Sensitive teeth shouldn’t be dismissed as unimportant. Sometimes there’s an underlying problem that may be serious, so if your teeth have become sensitive, make an appointment with your dentist.

How Can I Help My Sensitive Teeth?

Good oral hygiene is one of the best methods of caring for your teeth. If your teeth are sensitive, also consider the following:

  • Have regular dental checkups. Annual appointments are acceptable. Twice-yearly is better.
  • Use dental products that are formulated for sensitive teeth.
  • Use dental products that contain fluoride. Although you may not notice immediate results, over time, you should notice a decrease in sensitivity and pain.
  • Get a nightguard from your dentist if you have bruxism. Don’t get one from the local superstore because it won’t fit well, may fall out, and you won’t wear it.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle pressure when you brush.
  • Don’t skip your daily oral hygiene routine. No matter how tired you are or how short on time, make dental care a priority.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that cause tooth pain, whether it’s acidic foods, very sweet beverages, or icy foods and drinks.

You can learn to live with sensitive teeth, or you can treat them. Your dentist can provide tips for living with sensitive teeth as well as for correcting the problem so that you can resume living an active life and consuming foods that you enjoy.

How Can My Dentist Help Me Fix My Sensitive Teeth?

Consider discussing the following with your dentist:

  1. Try desensitizing toothpaste. It differs from toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth because it shields the nerve endings rather than avoiding substances that can irritate sensitive teeth. You may need a prescription for it, but your dentist can recommend the best desensitizing toothpaste for your needs.
  2. Talk to your dentist about fluoride. Applications of fluoride can be applied topically either to sensitive areas of your teeth, to all the surfaces of your teeth, or as a sealant to protect your teeth. When used as a sealant, it protects acids from attacking your teeth and keeps food particles from getting trapped between the teeth.
  3. If receding gums are exposing your tooth nerves and causing sensitivity, then talk to your dentist about a gum graft that will cover the nerves and alleviate your pain.

Although sensitive teeth are prevalent, they’re not a fact of life. You can alleviate the pain of sensitive teeth and resume living a life you enjoy that’s free of tooth pain.

Sensitive teeth are easy to treat, but it’s essential to know the cause of the sensitivity. Use good oral hygiene practices, opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle pressure, and use oral hygiene products that contain fluoride and are designed for sensitive teeth. Don’t skip your annual dental checkups – or semi-annual dental checkups – and you can ensure your teeth last for your lifetime, and you won’t need implants or false teeth.

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(941) 538-6339