Sensitive Teeth Can be a Painful Experience
Toothpaste for sensitive teeth is a big seller, and with good reason: 40 million adults in America suffer from sensitive teeth. While using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can ease your discomfort, finding out the cause of your tooth sensitivity and taking steps to correct the problem could be a better solution.
Sensitive teeth are usually most noticeable when you eat or drink something that is very hot or very cold. Tooth enamel protects the sensitive underlayer of the teeth from pain. This layer, called dentin, is filled with nerves and extends to the tooth root. Tooth enamel can break down and expose the dentin, which causes pain from heat, cold and sometimes even very sweet foods. Another cause of tooth sensitivity is receding gums, which exposes the dentin underneath the gums.
Sensitive teeth toothpaste usually contains chemical compounds that block nerve pathways through the teeth. Strontium chloride and potassium nitrate are two of the most common compounds used. It can take weeks of regular use for sensitive teeth toothpaste to give you relief. These toothpastes also do nothing to solve the problems that cause tooth sensitivity to begin with.
Preventing the breakdown of enamel can reduce the likelihood of tooth sensitivity from occurring. Fluoride is the best defense against enamel loss. In addition to using fluoride toothpaste every time you brush, our dentists at Alabama Family Dentistry may recommend fluoride treatment or a fluoride rinse.
Some things that can contribute to enamel loss include:
- Using a toothbrush that is too hard. You should always use a soft-bristled brush and be careful when brushing near the gumline.
- Eating foods that are high in acid. Unfortunately, many healthy foods fall into this category, such as citrus fruits and some vegetables. After eating, drink a glass of water or chew sugarless gum to help wash away acids and food particles.
- Teeth grinding. If you know or suspect that you are a teeth grinder, talk to your dentist about getting a mouth guard.
- Misaligned teeth. If your teeth are not in proper alignment, they may rub against each other and cause excessive wearing down of enamel. Having crooked teeth or a bad bite corrected can help, and it can make your teeth easier to clean and prevent buildup that can cause bacteria.
At Alabama Family Dentistry, we can help you to understand what may be causing tooth sensitivity and offer solutions. If preventative measures are not enough to completely ease your discomfort, there are treatment options that may help including dental sealants or dental bonding to cover exposed root surfaces. Give us a call at any of our four locations in the Birmingham area to set up an appointment or consultation.