During the hot summer months, you might crave a cold bowl of ice cream, a melt-in-your-mouth popsicle, or an icy snow-cone . . . Mmm! However, a frosty sweet treat may bring you more pain than pleasure if you happen to be one of the thousands of people in the world who suffer from sensitive teeth. If something as simple (and delicious) as ice cream can send searing pain through your mouth, you might wonder how to care for sensitive teeth. With a little knowhow and some professional support, you won’t have to worry so much about what comes into contact with your teeth.
How to Care for Sensitive Teeth
Teeth can become sensitive for a variety of reasons. For example, many people notice a newfound sensitivity after having their teeth whitened. Other common causes include worn-down tooth enamel, teeth with exposed roots, cavities left untreated, teeth grinding (also known as bruxism), gum disease, and chipped or cracked teeth. If your teeth are sensitive to cold or hot foods, consult your dentist as soon as possible. And while you wait for professional help, use the tips below to gain some relief.
Change Your Toothpaste
Many pharmacies and stores like Target and Wal-Mart offer over-the-counter, desensitizing toothpastes. You will need to brush with this toothpaste for several days or weeks before you notice any results. However, when used on a regular basis, desensitizing toothpaste can help reduce the pain caused by your sensitive teeth.
Choose a Softer Toothbrush
Treat your sensitive teeth with compassion and gentle care. After purchasing desensitizing toothpaste, buy a soft-bristled toothbrush to use with it. Then, brush your teeth gently (and regularly) with a back-and-forth motion to thoroughly clean the teeth without causing further pain.
Drink with a Straw
Straws aren’t just for kids and beachside cocktails. In fact, they can help protect your sensitive teeth by diverting the liquid away from your teeth. Especially when sipping very cold drinks, be sure to use a straw. If you’re drinking a hot beverage, however, don’t use a plastic straw; for safety, use a paper or stainless steel straw instead.
Avoid Foods and Drinks with a High Acid Content
You can protect your teeth from further damage (and avoid pain) by staying away from certain foods and beverages. In addition to hot and cold items, you might wish to avoid foods and beverages that are high in acid. These include fruit juice, citrus fruits, carbonated beverages, coffee, and even some yogurt. Learn to recognize the foods that bring the worst pain to your mouth and avoid them until your dentist can address the problem.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Although the tips above can help reduce the sensitivity of your teeth for a little while, a visit to your dentist could solve the problem for good. Your dentist knows how to care for sensitive teeth, so it is important that you schedule a dental appointment to determine what is causing your teeth’s sensitivity. Below you’ll find a few of the common procedures used to treat this problem.
Sometimes your dentist can reduce tooth sensitivity with the direct application of fluoride. The fluoride can successfully add strength to the tooth enamel and reduce pain. You may be given fluoride to apply at home after the initial application.
Treatment of Exposed Root Surfaces
When exposed roots are the cause of tooth sensitivity, your dentist may be able to apply bonding resin to those areas. This is a simple procedure that often serves to desensitize the teeth.
Personal Mouth Guard
If your teeth are becoming sensitive due to damage caused by constant grinding while you sleep, then a mouth guard can protect your teeth from further damage. Your dentist can make a guard that fits your mouth perfectly, making it much more comfortable than an over-the-counter, one-size-fits-all mouth guard.
If you suffer from extreme tooth sensitivity and no other treatments prove effective, your dentist may recommend a root canal. During the treatment, an endodontist will remove the pulp of the tooth, which contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. Then, the space will be filled with a biocompatible material, typically gutta-percha (a rubber-like material). This is a highly effective treatment, but it is typically reserved for those with severe tooth sensitivity.
Treatment for tooth sensitivity depends greatly on the severity of the issue. Some people find that a desensitizing toothpaste and soft-bristle toothbrush effectively eliminate their pain. Others require a root canal for true relief. Whether your sensitivity is mild and intermittent or excruciating and persistent, contact your dentist for help learning how to care for sensitive teeth.
Speaking of which, if you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist in or near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. Schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!