It’s estimated that 1 in 8 adults in the United States have sensitive teeth, yet the cause of this sensitivity can vary greatly. Perhaps it is a case of eroded tooth enamel, tooth decay, or a worn filling. While it’s difficult to understand the exact cause of your own sensitive teeth, here are five of our top tips that can help relieve the pain of having sensitive teeth.
1. Stop brushing your teeth too hard. If you brush too hard around the gum tissue, it may cause gingival recession, which then exposes the roots of the teeth. Oftentimes the roots of the teeth are very sensitive, as they are made up of a different structure than tooth enamel. Tooth brush abrasion can also occur when you directly brush too hard over a long period of time on the tooth surface. If the abrasion penetrates into the dentin (the next layer of tooth), that area may also be prone to sensitivity.
2. Don’t avoid brushing and flossing in the most sensitive areas. Often people avoid areas that are sensitive, thinking that brushing and flossing those areas may agitate the area and cause even more sensitivity. But the actual fact is that if there is a sensitive area, one should floss and brush that area even more. Even if your gums bleed initially from the extra attention, within days the bleeding should subside, and the tooth structure around the healthier gum tissue will be less prone to sensitivity.
3. Wear a nightguard to bed. Sometimes, when people grind or clench their teeth at night, it causes excess wear to their teeth. When the enamel is worn down to the layer beneath the enamel (the dentin mentioned above), your teeth are more prone to being sensitive.
4. Try remineralizing nano-hydroxyapatite (nHA) toothpaste. Sensitivity is usually the result of eroded tooth enamel or exposed tooth root. Most toothpastes for sensitivity use ingredients that numb the pain sensors, but a 2015 study concludes that nano-hydroxyapatite toothpaste can help alleviate teeth sensitivity as well.
5. Don’t avoid the dentist. Tooth sensitivity, especially if it is localized to a particular tooth, may be indicative of something wrong with the tooth. An in person clinical exam and x-ray may reveal something intrinsically wrong with the tooth (cavity, inflamed roots or infected gums.) So when the pain continues, do make sure to visit the dentist for proper treatment.
The best way to address your sensitive teeth starts with understanding the reasons why your teeth may be sensitive in the first place. As such, we recommend regular dentist visits every 6 months, along with your daily oral care ritual. After all, we only have one set of adult teeth in our lifetimes. Why not treat them with love and respect as early as you can?