How to desensitize your teeth?

Causes and Treatments of Extremely Sensitive Teeth

It’s common for hot and cold foods to trigger tooth sensitivity, but if you have pain along with other symptoms – such as loose teeth, swollen gums or pain while chewing – you may have extremely sensitive teeth caused by another dental issue. Your dentist can determine the problem and appropriate treatment, but it’s best to know what you’re doing yourself to cause this oral issue.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

The crowns, or the part of the teeth above your gumline, are covered with a layer of protective enamel, while the roots below your gumline are protected with a material called cementum. Underneath the enamel and cementum is dentin, which is less dense than the protective coverings. The dentin contains microscopic canals called dentin tubules, and when enamel or cementum wears away or becomes damaged, it exposes the dentin. When your gums recede and expose the dentin, the tubules allow fluid to flow in them and are affected by heat and cold causing the nerves in the tooth to have sensitivity and pain, according to the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site.

What Causes It?

Why would the enamel or cementum wear away? You may be consuming too many acidic foods and beverages, brushing your teeth too aggressively, or overusing certain tooth-whitening products. However, with extremely sensitive teeth, or hypersensitivity, the more likely causes are those that expose more dentin, such as tooth decay, worn fillings or fractured teeth.

In-Office Treatment

Because extremely sensitive teeth are frequently caused by a more complex dental problem, it’s important to see a dentist and have the issue treated directly. This may involve a crown, inlay or bonding, depending on the problem. If you have gum disease that has progressed to a chronic or advanced stage, you’ll need to treat this as well.

If you have lost gum tissue from the root, your dentist may recommend a surgical gum graft to cover the roots so they’re protected again. If you have persistent and severe sensitivity, an x-ray should be taken to determine if a root canal could be the issue, which, according to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), removes the nerve so it’s no longer there to cause you pain.

At-Home Treatment

You can also find some relief from a desensitizing toothpaste. Products such as Colgate® Sensitive contain ingredients that help protect the tooth surface. Your dentist might also recommend a fluoride gel treatment, which strengthens your current tooth enamel, decreasing the sensations sent to the nerve.

How to Get Rid of Sensitive Teeth Pain

You don’t have to live in fear of eating or drinking the wrong things because they may trigger pangs of pain in your mouth. So, what helps soothe sensitive teeth? Simple changes to your dietary habits, proper care, good oral hygiene, including rinsing with the LISTERINE® Sensitivity mouthwash, can result in pain relief and the reversal of tooth sensitivity.

Follow these tips to ease tooth pain from sensitivity and fortify your enamel.

1. Brush With Softer Bristles

For sensitive teeth relief, you should take proper care of your teeth. The harder you brush, the more susceptible you are to receding gum lines and the more you wear away at your enamel or softer cementum which exposes the dentin tubules inside. Even if your teeth start feeling better with treatment, it’s important to make certain you are brushing them gently with soft bristles.

2. Guard Your Teeth Overnight

Wondering why your teeth are so stressed? You could be involuntarily grinding your teeth while asleep. This is called bruxism and in the long term the friction can result in enamel erosion. Waking up with a sore jaw is a tell-tale sign of sleep-grinding. Consult your dentist and he or she can recommend a dental mouth guard to protect your teeth at night.

3. Take Care When Whitening Your Teeth

Everyone loves having a pearly white smile, but whitening procedures may result in tooth sensitivity. Take a break from the whitening and consult your dentist to prevent bleaching-related sensitivity.

4. Find the Right Toothpaste and Mouthwash

LISTERINE® Sensitivity mouthwash gets inside open dentin tubules to actively prevent painful stimuli from reaching your nerves, blocking sensitivity at the source. Using mouthwash alongside fluoride toothpastes like Listerine Essential Care Fluoride Anticavity further helps protect your enamel.

5. Consult Your Dentist

If you experience lasting pain, you should immediately consult a dentist for proper sensitive teeth treatment options. Not only will your dentist diagnose the issue, but they can advise you regarding treatments to help combat the pain.

How to stop sensitive teeth

People with sensitive teeth find it very uncomfortable. The pain can be very sharp – although it’s quite short – it’s very sharp. It leads people to avoid things that they would otherwise enjoy in life: hot and cold foods, even sometimes cold wind can cause pain.
People start to develop ways of avoiding the stimuli. Avoidance stops the pain for some people, but there is a choice, you don’t have to put up with it.

How do teeth become sensitive?

Teeth become sensitive when the outside covering of the tooth is missing. So that could either be through:

  • The gum tissue receding, away from the crown and down to the root of the tooth so some of the root becomes exposed.
  • The inside part of the tooth, or the pulp of the tooth, can be stimulated when you put something hot, cold or sweet on the outside of the tooth. The dentine tubules conduct that through to the pulp of the tooth and the nerve fibres are then stimulated and cause pain.

Note that there are other causes of sensitivity and you will need to check with your dentist to be sure that you have dentine hypersensitivity and not some other cause of tooth pain.

What can cause dentine hypersensitivity?

Gums can recede. For example, when you brush your teeth with a hard toothbrush or in the wrong way. Enamel may be lost from the crown of the tooth through excessive intake of acidic foods and drinks.

Does tooth sensitivity get worse over time?

If you keep doing the things that cause the dentine exposure in the first place, then it can get worse over time.

Is teeth sensitivity reversible?

You can’t get back the missing enamel or gum tissue, you can block the dentine tubules to help stop the pain.

Can it spread to other teeth?

It’s not like a disease. You can limit the number of sensitive teeth you have by adjusting your behaviours:

  • Altering your brushing technique so you’re not scrubbing your teeth anymore
  • Using a soft toothbrush
  • Limiting the number of acidic drinks that you have in a day.

Dec 19, 2017 12:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

It happens to everyone when you least expect it; a quick swig of hot chocolate after coming in from the cold and ouch! Your teeth react to the temperature change as if you had been chewing on tin foil. Statistics show that one out of every eight Americans suffer from teeth sensitivity—otherwise known as dentinal hypersensitivity—but few of us talk to a dentist about it. What causes teeth sensitivity, and can it be treated or even reversed?

What causes tooth sensitivity?

The main culprit for sensitivity is the tooth’s enamel wearing down. “ A very common cause of tooth sensitivity is the exposure of dentin and cementum caused by loss of soft tissue support surrounding the teeth (recession of the gum tissue),” said James Keddington DDS, assistant professor and section head of dental conservation and restoration at the University of Utah School of Dentistry. “Some people have inherently sensitive teeth, and even with the most careful attention to prevention of all of these factors, the symptoms may remain.” When questions or concerns arise, follow up with a dental professional.

Is tooth sensitivity preventable?

Proper oral hygiene is your best bet against developing sensitive teeth, so be sure to floss daily, brush your teeth at least twice per day, and use a fluoride rinse. But some basic lifestyle changes can help as well. For instance, switch to a soft-bristled brush and brush with a lighter touch. Also, doctors warn against brushing immediately following a snack or a meal that includes acidic foods. “These acids weaken tooth enamel, and brushing too soon can remove enamel,” said Keddington. If you know you’re going to eat or drink something acidic, brush your teeth beforehand, then rinse your mouth with water following the meal.

A common list of foods and drinks that are acidic include citrus fruits and juices, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, candy (especially sour candy, often with a pH nearly that of battery acid), chips, ice cream, and sweeteners placed in coffees or teas. Keddington said we should limit how often we consume these foods, especially soda. “Each sip leads to increased demineralization,” he said. “If a person has to have their food or drink, they should eat it or drink it and finish, as opposed to nursing it for a prolonged time.”

Chewing ice can also lead to microfractures in the tooth structure that may lead to sensitivity, and clenching or grinding teeth may lead to tooth sensitivity. Be sure to talk with your dentist if you experience a sore jaw, teeth sensitivity, or pain that may indicate teeth grinding. When possible, chew sugarless gum. This produces saliva, which helps strengthen tooth enamel.

Can tooth sensitivity be controlled or reversed?

Our teeth are in a constant state of demineralization (eating, drinking, bleaching, etc.) and remineralization (salvation, fluoride application, oral hygiene). “Tooth demineralization takes seconds to begin, while tooth remineralization can take hours,” said Keddington. “When demineralization is overtaking remineralization, we risk sensitivity and damage to the tooth structure, especially when the acidic foods and drinks contain refined sugar.”

The first step is to determine the “root” cause of sensitive teeth. A visit to the dentist will rule out a cavity or abscessed tooth. “If a person is dealing with temporary tooth sensitivity, time, saliva, and the removal of bacterial plaque with floss, a toothbrush, and fluoride toothpaste should be enough,” said Keddington.

He also suggested switching to a toothpaste designed to eliminate tooth sensitivity over time. Be sure to select brands that have fluoride (a remineralizing agent) and potassium nitrate (a desensitizing agent).

Be careful with tooth-whitening kits.

Tooth whitening kits have been known to cause tooth sensitivity. Typically, though, it is a reversible sensitivity. “While using hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to whiten or bleach teeth, the effect of the whitening agent does slightly demineralize the enamel of the tooth,” said Keddington. “If a person has exposed cementum (the hard tooth structure covering the root) or the dentin (the hard tooth structure beneath the enamel or cementum), the sensitivity potential increases. But this demineralization of the tooth structure is temporary, and with a normal salivary flow rate the teeth begin to remineralize again.”

If people experience sensitivity while whitening their teeth, they should stop the process. Often, the lower the concentration of hydrogen peroxide, the less sensitivity is experienced, but the bleaching process will take longer. Many of the professional strength bleaching agents will have added ingredients such as fluoride and potassium nitrate, which help combat tooth sensitivity. If you have questions or concerns about tooth whitening, it is recommended to consult with a dental professional.

With good oral hygiene, reducing the number of acidic foods we eat, and talking with your doctor about simple solutions and to rule out more serious symptoms, we can reduce or eliminate teeth sensitivity. And that’s something to smile about.

How to Relieve Sensitive Teeth (Naturally)

Ask any ice cream lover: Sensitive teeth can be a real drag. In fact, a number of things can exacerbate sensitive teeth, from food to brushing, so it can go from a minor annoyance to a big problem pretty quickly. And although desensitizing toothpastes can help ease the pain, you might wonder how to relieve sensitive teeth naturally and skip the pain next time. A couple of changes to your routine can make a big difference in how your teeth feel, so you can get back to your normal self.

What’s Causing the Pain?

Sensitive teeth can be the result of any number of dental issues, including genetics. Focusing on the cause of your tooth sensitivity can better your understanding of how to treat it and prevent it from coming back. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), tooth sensitivity is usually triggered when eating hot or cold foods, and can be caused by:

  • periodontal (gum) disease
  • tooth decay and exposure of roots at the gumline
  • aggressive toothbrushing
  • wearing away of the enamel, the hard surface that protects the nerves of each tooth

If you think your sensitive teeth are the result of tooth decay, disease or infection, see your dentist. However, issues like soft enamel can be habit-based or even hereditary, according to CNN, making it easier to wear it down. So you may be able to treat sensitivity naturally at home.

Knowing how to relieve sensitive teeth can include remedies that may even be in your own hands. Specifically 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 can help keep your teeth healthy, but using a hard-bristled toothbrush or a highly abrasive toothpaste can aggravate sensitive teeth. Instead, swap out your usual toothbrush for a softer product, such as Colgate® SlimSoft™, and brush your teeth gently in a back and forth motion and across the biting surfaces of the teeth, rather than erratically. 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, coffee, citrus fruits and even yogurt, can cause sensitivity, warns the Mayo Clinic. 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 soda, do so by drinking through a straw to limit the contact the liquid has with your teeth. Additionally, don’t brush your teeth right after eating or drinking acidic foods; acid softens your enamel and makes your teeth even more sensitive if brushed against too quickly. Instead, have a glass of milk to help neutralize the acid.

Wear a Mouth Guard

Do you grind your teeth at night? If you suffer with sensitive teeth, you might, even if you don’t realize it. Teeth grinding can wear away tooth enamel so they feel sore and sensitive the next day. A mouth guard can help keep you from grinding: You can get one from your dentist or find it in the oral care section of your drug store. This item acts as a protective bite piece that is placed on your teeth to protect the enamel, similar to those worn by athletes in contact sports.

If you suffer from sensitive teeth, toothpaste isn’t your only option to enjoy your favorite foods once again. In fact, you can start today to take steps toward a healthier mouth and less sensitive teeth in natural, simple ways. By caring for your pearly whites gently and regularly, you’ll focus on treating the cause of sensitive teeth, rather than simply reacting to the pain.

10 Biggest Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Does drinking an ice cold beverage cause dental discomfort? Or do you find yourself wincing when you brush or floss? You could have what’s known as tooth sensitivity.

You don’t have to put up with the pain, however. There are things you can do to lessen tooth sensitivity and improve your oral health, says Leslie Seldin, DDS, a dentist in New York City and an associate professor of dentistry at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.

Here’s why you could be experiencing this mouth malady — and steps you can take to find relief for sensitive teeth:

1. You brush with too much gusto. Sometimes tooth sensitivity comes from brushing with too much force or using a hard-bristled toothbrush. Over time, you can wear down the protective layers of your teeth and expose microscopic hollow tubes or canals that lead to your dental nerves. When these tubes are exposed to extreme temperatures or acidic or sticky foods, tooth sensitivity and discomfort can result. The simplest solution is to switch to a toothbrush with softer bristles and to be gentler when brushing.

2. You eat acidic foods. If the pathways to your nerves are exposed, acidic foods such as tomato sauce, lemon, grapefruit, kiwi, and pickles can cause pain. But avoiding these foods can help you avoid any tooth discomfort.

3. You’re a tooth-grinder. Even though tooth enamel is the strongest substance in your body, grinding your teeth can wear down the enamel. By doing so, you expose the dentin, or the middle layer of the tooth, which contains the hollow tubes that lead to your nerves. Talk to your dentist about finding a mouth guard that can stop you from grinding. The best guards are custom-made to fit your bite, Dr. Seldin says.

4. You use tooth-whitening toothpaste. Many manufacturers add tooth-whitening chemicals to their toothpaste formulas, and some people are more sensitive to them than others. If your toothpaste contains whitening agents, consider switching to one that doesn’t.

5. You’re a mouthwash junkie. Like whitening toothpaste, some over-the-counter mouthwashes and rinses contain alcohol and other chemicals that can make your teeth more sensitive — especially if your dentin’s exposed. Instead, try neutral fluoride rinses or simply skip the rinse and be more diligent about flossing and brushing.

6. You’ve got gum disease. Receding gums, which are increasingly common with age (especially if you haven’t kept up with your dental health), can cause tooth sensitivity. If gum disease or gingivitis is the problem, your dentist will come up with a plan to treat the underlying disease, and may also suggest a procedure to seal your teeth.

7. You have excessive plaque. The purpose of flossing and brushing is to remove plaque that forms after you eat. An excessive buildup of plaque can cause tooth enamel to wear away. Again, your teeth can become more sensitive as they lose protection provided by the enamel. The solution is to practice good daily dental care and visit your dentist for cleanings every six months — or more frequently if necessary.

8. You’ve had a dental procedure. It’s common to experience some sensitivity after a root canal, an extraction, or the placement of a crown. If symptoms don’t disappear after a short time, you should schedule another visit to your dentist, as it could be a sign of infection.

9. Your tooth is cracked. A chipped or cracked tooth can cause pain that goes beyond tooth sensitivity. Your dentist will need to evaluate your tooth and decide the right course of treatment, such as a cap or an extraction.

10. There is decay around the edges of fillings. As you get older, fillings can weaken and fracture or leak around the edges. It’s easy for bacteria to accumulate in these tiny crevices, which causes acid buildup and enamel breakdown. Be sure to see your dentist if you notice this type of tooth sensitivity between visits; in most cases, fillings can be easily replaced.

Tooth sensitivity is treatable. In fact, you might find that using toothpaste specifically made for sensitive teeth helps, Seldin says. However, these formulas don’t work for everyone.

If your sensitivity is extreme and persists no matter what steps you take, be sure to see your dentist for an evaluation. Only an office visit can determine the most likely cause of your tooth sensitivity and the best solution for your particular situation.

Take Care of Your Tooth Enamel

That’s a hard, protective layer that helps your teeth deal with everything you put them through. When it’s gone, nerve endings that cause pain are exposed.

If you have sensitive teeth, it’s possible some of your enamel has worn away.

To prevent or put the brakes on that damage:

Don’t brush too hard. Do you clean your teeth with a heavy hand? You might be taking off more than just plaque. Side-to-side brushing right at the gum line can make your enamel go away faster. You should use a soft-bristled brush and work at a 45-degree angle to your gum to keep enamel clean and strong.

Avoid acidic foods and drinks. Soda, sticky candy, high-sugar carbs — all of these treats attack enamel. Instead, snack on:

  • Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Plain yogurt

These will moisten your mouth and help fight acid and bacteria that can eat away at your teeth. Saliva is one way your mouth deals with them.

You can also drink green or black tea or chew sugarless gum. If you do eat something acidic, don’t rush to brush. Wait an hour or so to strengthen before you scrub.

Unclench your teeth. Over time, teeth grinding wears away your enamel. Sometimes, addressing your stress can stop the problem. If that doesn’t work, your dentist can fit you for a splint or a mouth guard.

If the problem is severe, you may need dental work to change your teeth’s position, or a muscle relaxant.

Take a break from bleaching. The quest for pearly whites may cause your pain. Thankfully, sensitivity from bleaching is usually temporary. Talk to your dentist about how the treatment might be affecting you, and whether you should continue it.

If you are suffering from sensitive teeth, it is most likely because your enamel has been eroded or the roots of your teeth have been exposed. While the gnawing and uncomfortable pain of sensitive teeth can often be lessened by switching to desensitizing toothpastes or reducing acid consumption, sometimes sensitive teeth can only be adequately treated in the dentist’s office. Here are the four main dental procedures and treatments that can help to combat sensitive teeth.

Fluoride Application

If fluoride varnish is applied to the sensitive teeth in your mouth, this can help to reduce some of the pain and discomfort by strengthening your enamel and dentin. The same goal can be accomplished by having your dentist apply a fluoride gel to your mouth for five minutes.

Covering Root Surfaces

If you have receding gums due to age or a persistent case of gum disease, sensitive teeth will often develop because of root exposure. If you have sensitive teeth because of exposed roots, bonding agents can be a very good solution. In this type of case, your dentist will help you by using a particular sealant to cover the area that is causing you to experience pain (i.e. the tooth root that has become exposed), sealing the surfaces and thereby blocking exposure to the causes of sensitive teeth.

Making a Mouth Guard

If you are suffering from sensitive teeth because of bruxism (i.e. grinding your teeth, often while you sleep), your dentist can make a model of your teeth and then use this to produce a mouth guard that you can wear during the night. By protecting your teeth from pressure and damage, this mouth guard can be highly effective at reducing the pain caused by sensitive teeth. It will also treat pain in the jaw joint.

Root Canal Treatment

If all else fails and it is thought that your sensitive teeth are seriously undermining your quality of life, your dentist may decide that you are a suitable candidate for root canal treatment. This procedure can effectively compensate for sensitive teeth by removing the soft pulp inside the tooth.

Teeth Sensitivity: Care and Treatment

What can I do to reduce tooth sensitivity?

  • Maintain good oral hygiene: Continue to follow proper brushing and flossing techniques to thoroughly clean all parts of your teeth and mouth.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: This will result in less toothbrush abrasion to the tooth surface and less irritation to your gums. Brush gently and carefully around the gum line so you do not remove more gum tissue.
  • Use desensitizing toothpaste: There are several brands of toothpaste available for sensitive teeth. With regular use, you should notice a decrease in sensitivity. You may need to try several different brands to find the product that works best for you. Another tip: spread a thin layer of the toothpaste on the exposed tooth roots with your finger or a Q-tip before you go to bed. Do not use a tartar control toothpaste; rather, use a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Watch what you eat: Frequent consumption of highly acid foods can gradually dissolve tooth enamel and lead to dentin exposure. They may also aggravate the sensitivity and start the pain reaction.
  • Use fluoridated dental products: Daily use of a fluoridated mouth rinse can decrease sensitivity. Ask your dentist about available products for home use.
  • Avoid teeth grinding: If you grind or clench your teeth, use a mouth guard at night.
  • See your dentist at regular intervals: Get professional tooth cleaning, oral hygiene instructions, and fluoride treatments every 6 months.

If you still have discomfort, talk to your dentist. There are some dental procedures that may help reduce sensitivity, including the use of:

  • White fillings (bonding) to cover exposed root surfaces
  • Fluoride varnishes applied to the exposed root surface
  • Dentin sealers applied to the exposed root surface

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