Tooth sensitivity is a common problem and one that can cause untold annoyance. Most people experience shooting pains when they bite down on an ice lolly or sip or a hot cup of tea, but for some sensitivity is a recurrent problem that leads to severe pain and makes day-to-day life difficult.
What causes sensitivity?
Sensitive teeth are usually caused by the dentin portion of the tooth becoming exposed. This lies beneath the enamel surface of the tooth and contains living tissue, including the nerves and blood vessels. The enamel is hard and its responsibility is to protect the teeth. However, it can become worn and damaged and when this happens, the dentin becomes exposed.
There are many reasons why the dentin may become exposed, including acid erosion caused by eating or drinking acidic or sugary foods and drinks, brushing too hard, fractures or chips, tooth decay, receding gums, teeth grinding or gum disease.
How is it treated?
Tooth sensitivity may be indicative of an underlying dental condition, so it is important to see your dentist if you experience symptoms such as tingling, pain when you chew or bite, bleeding, sore or swollen gums. Your dentist will be able to identify the cause of sensitivity and suggest possible treatments.
There are also home remedies that can be effective in bringing relief. The first thing to try is toothpaste specially designed for sensitive teeth. Brushing with sensitive toothpaste can bring instant relief from pain caused by sensitivity, as well as reducing pain in the future. There are several brands and types available, so ask your dentist for advice.
Avoiding triggers sounds like an obvious suggestion but it can make a huge difference. If you know that drinking very hot drinks causes discomfort, try to wait until your drink has cooled before you sip, or use a straw to prevent direct contact between cold liquid and your teeth if you’re affected by icier temperatures.
Take care when you brush your teeth. Some people think that brushing as hard as they can kills more bacteria and boosts oral health. But brushing vigorously actually harms the teeth and increases the risk of oral disease because it damages the enamel surfaces. Try to use a medium or soft brush and brush for two minutes at a time, covering all surfaces of each tooth. If you have an electric toothbrush, do not add your own force – simply glide the brush over your teeth.
Try applying toothpaste to your teeth using your finger. Target the sensitive spots and place toothpaste on affected areas before you go to bed. If you prefer to use organic or natural oral hygiene products, there is an increasingly large range to choose from.
Sensitivity is often linked to decay or gum disease and there are some very effective natural solutions that can help to keep pain at bay. Using an aloe vera rinse soothes inflammation and swelling, while adding Echinacea to a drink three times a day will help to target infections and boost your immune system.