Ruth Jones, RDH
Experiencing Teeth Sensitivity?
Teeth sensitivity also known as dentin hypersensitivity is not uncommon in the American Adult population. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat tooth sensitivity to relieve the discomfort. There are also ways to help prevent sensitivity occurring.
Causes and Prevention of Sensitivity
The outside layer of teeth, called enamel is the protection layer. When this layer becomes thin or experiences wear, sensitivity can occur. Enamel can become thin due to acidic foods or drinks. Avoiding these types of foods and drinks is an option but can sometimes feel limiting. If you plan to keep eating and drinking these foods, rinsing with water or a mouth wash directly after will help and be sure to brush your teeth twice a day.
Clenching and grinding can cause enamel loss. This often occurs at night and you may be unaware you are doing it. If this is the cause of sensitivity, a night guard (sometimes called an occlusal guard) can be worn to prevent further wear and damage of the teeth.
Gum recession exposes the root of the teeth because enamel only covers the “crown” of the tooth or the top portion of the tooth. Without the protective layer of enamel, the root is a common area of sensitivity. Brushing too hard or using a toothbrush with “medium” or “hard” bristles can cause recession; always use a toothbrush with soft or extra-soft bristles. Receding gums can also be caused by clenching and grinding which was mentioned above. Gum recession can be caused by periodontal disease in which case, speaking with a dental profession will be best to discuss treatment options.
Whitening or bleaching is a cosmetic dental procedure that can cause sensitivity due to dehydration of the teeth. By being proactive, you can prevent sensitivity after whitening by using a sensitive tooth paste or other options discussed below.
Over the counter toothpastes such as Sensodyne, or Colgate Sensitive can be used on a daily basis in place of other toothpastes to relieve discomfort from sensitivity. Look for the active ingredient potassium nitrate.
Fluoride is well known for it’s anti-cavity benefits, but it also has a desensitizing component as well. A fluoride varnish can be applied at dental visits to help relieve sensitivity. There are also prescription strength toothpastes that contain fluoride that can be used on a daily basis that will continue to provide protection and desensitizing for teeth.
MI Paste is a relatively new product that has several beneficial effects. One of them being a sensitivity relief. MI Paste is meant to be applied after brushing and left on for at least 30 minutes. It can be used in dental trays and left in over night as well.
It should be noted that if tooth sensitivity is localized to one area or tooth this may be an indication of tooth decay, a cavity, or infection. By talking with a dentist, the best treatment option can be discussed.
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