Saturday, July 4, 2015
Tooth Sensitivity – What Causes It and How Can I Treat It?
Summer has arrived, and for individuals with sensitive teeth, the thought of ice cold treats could have you cringing instead of cheering. Tooth sensitivity can make dental visits, procedures, and a variety of foods and beverages very uncomfortable to experience. While it may be considered a minor problem in the realm of various oral health disorders, tooth sensitivity should be addressed and treated to ensure that your dental checkups and hygiene habits go smoothly and comfortably, and that you can enjoy a reasonable variety of food and drink without pain.
Tooth sensitivity most frequently occurs when the nerves of tooth are not adequately protected. When tooth enamel is worn down due to improper or abrasive brushing, tooth decay, gum disease or infection, then hot and cold temperatures will easily stimulate the tooth nerves and cause sensations of pain and discomfort. A dental checkup is the best bet in identifying the primary factor or combination of factors that could be causing your tooth sensitivity-- whether it’s a cavity, weakened filling, gum tissue recession, bruxism, or need for a root canal.
Once the issue has been identified and treated with a necessary procedure, tooth sensitivity should subside shortly thereafter. If, however, you experience tooth sensitivity on a regular basis and no periodontal issue has been determined as the cause, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce and manage your tooth sensitivity.
First, ensure that you are brushing and flossing properly, and with the right tools. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and waxed floss. Do not attempt to “scrub” your teeth clean when you brush. Instead, brushing should be completed gently, in short strokes. If your toothbrush bristles appear frayed at the ends, you’ve discovered a telltale sign of rough brushing and your teeth have likely sustained damage from toothbrush abrasion.
The toothpaste you choose could also contribute to or alleviate tooth sensitivity. Whitening toothpastes often contain abrasives and can easily add to tooth sensitivity—so too can teeth whitening products like gels and strips. Use toothpaste that is specified as desensitizing. Desensitizing toothpastes can be purchased just about anywhere under a variety of generic and brand names. Look for potassium nitrate as the active ingredient, as this substance works to block and protect exposed dentin and nerves.
Finally, make smart choices when it comes to oral health and hygiene. Good smile care habits reduce plaque and tartar, and minimize your risk of gum disease, cavities and other issues that result in tooth sensitivity and more serious problems. Avoid tobacco products and reduce intake of foods and beverages high in sugar, acid or alcohol. If you have issues grinding or clenching your teeth, take care to minimize stress and consider using a mouth guard to prevent enamel damage and discomfort.
Follow these steps and you’ll be more likely to scream for ice cream, not because of it. Don’t forget to brush and floss afterwards.