Tooth sensitivity is a special kind of torture. Not only does it prevent you from enjoying your favorite hot and cold treats, but it can also hit you with a persistent feeling that’s so unpleasant it’s impossible to ignore. Whatever level of sensitivity you’re dealing with, the following five tips will help you get it under control:
1. Don’t get complacent
As someone prone to tooth sensitivity, it’s important to take care, whether you’re currently experiencing symptoms or not. Even if you have porcelain veneers, you still need to treat these as you would your normal teeth. This means avoiding acidic foods (or at least cleansing your teeth right after consuming them), ensuring you aren’t brushing with too much force, and following your oral hygiene routine religiously.
2. Use the right toothpaste
Whether you shop online or in-store, there are many options for people with sensitive teeth. If fluoride is an issue for you, there are plenty of fluoride-free toothpaste varieties too. Either way, your paste of choice will likely contain desensitizing agents like strontium chloride or potassium nitrate to block the pain signals coming from the nerves in your teeth. While these products offer relief, it can take up to a month for you to start feeling their effects, so it’s important to follow the first tip and not get complacent.
3. Wear a mouthguard while you sleep
If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, chances are your dentist has already recommended a custom-fitted mouthguard to prevent you from grinding your teeth while you sleep and making matters worse. Nocturnal tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, quite literally grinds away your enamel. If left unchecked, this can lead to serious consequences down the track. If you’re not keen on the mouthguard idea, avoid sleeping on your stomach as this makes the issue worse. Sleeping on your back is optimal.
4. Get a dental checkup
If the steps above aren’t improving your sensitivity, it’s possible that it’s resulting from something a little more serious than worn enamel. Sensitivity can also be a symptom of cavities, worn fillings, a fractured tooth, gum disease, or an exposed root. Your dentist will be able to diagnose and treat any of these conditions. Make sure you ask them what they consider to be the best brushing technique for sensitive teeth so you can avoid any mistakes that may make your sensitivity worse.
5. Consider an enamel-strengthening treatment
Though many people are opposed to the use of fluoride, there’s still no consensus in the scientific world as to whether it has genuinely bad health implications for humans if applied correctly. There is, however, evidence that it can strengthen your enamel and thus treat and prevent tooth sensitivity. So, if your problem is bad enough, and you’ve researched the pros and cons of fluoride, this is an option you may wish to consider. If you decide to go ahead, your dentist may give you an in-chair treatment or some dental trays and prescription fluoride for you to use at home.
Though tooth sensitivity can be a frustrating and distracting issue to deal with, there are ways to get the relief you crave. Consistency in your oral hygiene routine is key – brush and floss twice a day with a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth, avoid acidic foods, and consider a mouthguard while you sleep. If all else fails, visit your dentist to ensure you don’t have a more serious underlying problem. If not, a fluoride strengthening treatment may be the way to go.