Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common dental problems that ensues when teeth or gums come into contact with acidic substances or food with extreme hot or cold temperatures. This can prevent you from enjoying your favourite beverage or treat. It can also be a telltale sign of other, more serious dental issues.
Ignore your sensitive teeth and you might not enjoy some of life’s pleasures — like a cold drink in summer or hot soup in winter. See a dentist to find out what’s causing the sensitivity and get appropriate treatment. Tell your dental professional the problems you’re having and request the best course of action.
Root Causes and What to Do
Toothbrush abrasion (over-brushing) – Over brushing and/or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wreak havoc on gums and teeth, scraping away at enamel, damaging dentin, and pushing back gums — ultimately causing tooth sensitivity.
What to do:
● Use toothbrushes with soft bristles. They might not look it, but they clean teeth more effectively than hard-bristled ones.
● Don’t apply too much pressure.
Receding gums – This can be a result of several factors, including: over-brushing, gum disease, and age. When gum recession takes place the roots of the teeth are exposed, causing pain (the roots are not protected by enamel).
What to do:
● Desensitizing toothpaste can generally help. Topical fluoride toothpastes contain a high concentration of fluoride (you may need to get a prescription for this) that remineralizes your teeth, reducing its sensitivity from gum recession. Apply it to gums and exposed roots after brushing.
● If you have gum disease, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning process called “scaling and root planing.”
● For severe cases of receding gums, your dentist may recommend a surgical treatment known as a “gum graft.”
Teeth grinding – This activity (which often occurs at night or during times of stress) can wear down the protective enamel of teeth, increasing pain and sensitivity. Oftentimes, the underlying cause of teeth grinding is anxiety, and you may be doing it without realizing.
What to do:
● If you notice or suspect that you have the tendency to grind or clench your teeth, ask your dentist about getting a custom-fitted mouth guard.
● You may also wish to look into relaxation exercises to reduce anxiety and tension.
Acid – This can come from either the food you eat or, perhaps, the mouthwash you use. Acid reduces the enamel and can damage the dentin layer of your teeth.
What to do:
● Rethink dietary habits. Avoid eating acidic food (e.g. grains, servings that are high in sugar, processed food). Start eating more “alkaline” food items (fresh vegetables, unsweetened dairy products, whole wheat, nuts, etc.)
● Use mouthwash with high fluoride levels.
While some natural remedies may alleviate pain and sensitivity in the mouth, they will not cure or solve the problem. Talk to your dentist and use these remedies alongside medical treatment/recommendations.
➢ Coconut oil. Oil pulling is a process involving swishing one tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil around your mouth for about 10 minutes. After swishing, rinse with warm water. If performed daily before brushing teeth, coconut oil can have a detoxifying effect and strengthen gums.
➢ Salt water. Salt has long been prized for its antibacterial properties. It reduces mouth acidity and lessens tooth sensitivity. Dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, swish the solution in your mouth, and rinse with water. This should be done twice a day until the condition of the gums improves. You can continue this practice occasionally to give your mouth an additional clean and prevent infection.
➢ Guava leaves. These are known to contain analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce the tooth sensitivity. Treatment with guava leaves can be done either by: chewing one to two fresh leaves for a few minutes; or by boiling four to five leaves in water, adding some salt, and (after allowing it to cool) straining and using the liquid as a homemade mouthwash.
Your oral health is a reflection of your overall wellness. Don’t let dental pain stop you from getting the most out of life. If you’re looking for a dentist in Guelph, contact Dr. Barrios’ clinic at (519) 767-6453 to schedule an appointment or consultation.