If you suffer from sensitive teeth – sadly, you are not alone, with women more likely to have the complaint than men. When the area around the tooth, called the dentin and the enamel get worn away the exposed nerve starts letting you know it’s there, through throbbing, pain and discomfort. This sensitive area of the tooth can be damaged by the wrong toothbrush, food, receding gums or high or low temperatures.
Here are ten tips that can help.
- Use softer brush strokes – when you neglect your teeth plaque builds up, when the plaque hardens it releases an acidic substance that can damage your tooth enamel. When you brush make sure you are brushing with gentle up and down strokes and use a softer toothbrush. You don’t have to brush hard and fast, instead brush gently for about 2 minutes.
- Use a sensitive teeth toothpaste – while it’s not guaranteed to work, it can help save you a trip to the dentist and some money. Look for a toothpaste that has been formulated to help those with sensitive teeth. These toothpastes usually contain strontium chloride and potassium nitrate to help de-sensitise the nerve endings in the dentin areas. To allow this to work properly you will have to use this toothpaste on a permanent basis.
- Change your mouthwash – try for a mouthwash that contains fluoride as fluoride can strengthen tooth enamel that has been compromised by bacterial acids. Researchers have found that when fluoride is present it helps stops the bacteria that causes tooth decay from sticking, which means that brushing will be more efficient. The next time you are shopping for mouthwash, look for one that contains fluoride.
- Stop grinding your teeth – you may not know it but if you do grind your teeth while you are sleeping you are multiplying your chances of having sensitive teeth. If you are aware of this problem ask your dentist to make you a mouth guard that you can wear while you are sleeping, it is an excellent investment.
- Be wary of teeth whitening *gimmicks* – although teeth whitening shouldn’t damage your teeth products that contain hydrogen peroxide MIGHT cause a problem. If you have amalgam fillings or you have had restoration work done, there is a risk of minor colour changes and spotting occurring. Always ask your dentist before using any over the counter whitening products to find out what product he or she recommends. There are NO natural ways to whiten your teeth.
- Avoid foods and drinks containing acids – while you can’t avoid these products all together you can reduce your intake. The most common acidic foods to avoid are wine, citrus drinks, vinegar, yoghurt, salad dressing and soft drinks. If you must eat or drink these items, try drinking through a straw and rinse your mouth with milk or water after eating to reduce the levels of acid floating around your teeth.
- Think about WHEN to brush your teeth – while you may think it’s a good idea to brush your teeth as soon as you finish eating, if you want to avoid the problems of sensitive teeth you need to think again. It’s better to wait half an hour before brushing as brushing your teeth too soon can actually *push* the acid deeper into the dentin layer.
- Ask your dentist for a fluoride paint job – speak to your dentist about applying a fluoride gel or varnish to your teeth, while it will take a few appointments for the layers of fluoride to settle and build up, you will have a *shield* around those delicate dentin areas.
- Make you own toothpaste shield – if your teeth are bothering you, especially around bed time try applying your toothpaste to your teeth – or tooth – with your finger. Let it set by keeping your mouth open. This will give you some relief while you sleep.
- Talk to your dentist – if none of the above suggestions help, you may need to talk to your dentist to see if there are any dental procedures that can help
Sensitive teeth can be a problem for any age group – from teens to seniors, whatever your age take action today.