Sensitive Teeth? Three Ways to Treat the Dreaded Pain

Sensitive Teeth? Three Ways to Treat the Dreaded Pain

If you suffer from sensitive teeth knowing how to relieve the pain can be invaluable. We take a look at what’s causing the pain and some tips to help.


Signs and Symptoms

If hot, cold, sweet or very acidic foods and drinks, breathing in cold air, or touching the affected surface makes your teeth or a tooth sensitive, then you may have dentine hypersensitivity. Tooth sensitivity can come and go over time.


What’s Causing the Pain?

Sensitive teeth can be the result of any number of dental issues. Focusing on the cause of your tooth sensitivity can improve your understanding of how to treat it and prevent it from coming back.


Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity can be caused by the following dental issues:
• Worn tooth enamel, receding gums and exposed root surfaces from using a hard toothbrush and using a hard grip while brushing aggressively
• Tooth erosion due to acidic foods and beverages
• Tooth decay, worn leaky fillings and broken teeth that expose the dentine of your tooth
• Gum recession, possibly as the result of gum disease, that leaves root surfaces exposed
• Grinding your teeth at night
• Post dental treatment sensitivity – common, but temporary, especially with procedures such as crowns, fillings and tooth bleaching


Have your teeth checked and ask your dentist about your tooth sensitivity to be sure it is not the result of tooth decay, disease or infection. If tooth sensitivity is due to tooth wear or gum recession you may be able to treat tooth sensitivity at home or when travelling.


How can I relieve sensitive teeth?

Amending some of your usual habits could make a difference in how your teeth feel on a daily basis. Try these three tips for healthier, pain-free teeth:


Swap Your Toothbrush

Brushing helps to keep your teeth healthy, so if needed, consider swapping your usual toothbrush for a softer version, and brush your teeth gently in a circular motion being careful to reach all of the tooth surfaces. Work systematically around your mouth rather than moving erratically from side to side or front to back. You don’t need to be harsh with your teeth; a little TLC can go a long way to reducing sensitivity.


Avoid Acidic Foods
Certain foods, like carbonated drinks, fruit teas and citrus fruits can cause sensitivity. This is because acidic products can actually be a catalyst to the wearing away of tooth enamel. Consider avoiding them altogether, and if you must have your daily soft drinks, do so by drinking through a straw to limit the contact the liquid has with your teeth. Additionally, don’t brush your teeth straight away after eating or drinking acidic foods; acid softens your enamel and makes your teeth even more vulnerable to wear if brushed too soon. Instead, have a glass of milk to help neutralise the acid.


Wear a Bite Splint
Do you grind your teeth at night? If you suffer with sensitive teeth, you might, even if you don’t realise it. Teeth grinding can wear away tooth enamel and puts pressure on the joint between the tooth and the bone so they feel sore and sensitive the next day. A bite splint can help keep you from grinding. You can get one from your dentist. This item acts as a protective cover that is placed over your teeth to protect them.


If you suffer from sensitive teeth, toothpaste specially designed for sensitive teeth, such as Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief, can also be used but it isn’t your only option to help you enjoy your favourite foods once again.


Importance of good oral hygiene and how to prevent sensitivity:

• Brush your teeth effectively but gently and thoroughly twice a day with a soft toothbrush
• Use dental floss to clean in between your teeth once a day
• Avoid smoking
• Go for regular dental check-ups
• A diet low in acidic foods and drinks also helps prevent tooth sensitivity


As featured in Balance by Deborah Hutton

Susan Cartwright
Susan Cartwright

Scientific Affairs Manager for Colgate Oral Care, South Pacific Region.

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