A young man with sensitive teeth holding a glass of ice water

How to help sensitive teeth

Typically caused by worn enamel or exposed roots, those who suffer from sensitive teeth usually experience some level of pain or discomfort when eating very cold or hot foods. While we have recently explored the reasons why teeth become sensitive, in this handy guide we outline some of the most effective ways of treating your teeth to ensure sensitivity is reduced.[1]

1. Use toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth

Perhaps the easiest way to combat sensitive teeth is to start using a toothpaste that is made specifically for those wanting to treat tooth sensitivity. These specially formulated pastes contain additional minerals and fluoride that can help to rebuild the enamel and dentin on your teeth and strengthen your gum line to prevent exposed nerves from being irritated. It’s important to use the toothpaste for at least a couple of months, twice a day, in order to experience the full benefits.[1]

2. Brush and floss regularly

Although this should be a given, maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine can make a huge difference when it comes to reducing sensitivity. Sensitive teeth are intrinsically linked to poor oral health, with buildup of plaque and receding gums both contributing to the condition. For this reason, brushing your teeth twice per day – making sure you use a soft-bristled brush – is essential in preventing and treating sensitive teeth.

Additionally, flossing at least once a day, using specially designed sensitive floss picks, is a great way to maintain good dental hygiene without damaging your gums, helping to treat and prevent sensitive teeth.[1]

3. Wear a nighttime mouthguard

Another common cause of sensitive teeth is subconscious grinding. When this happens as you sleep, you are slowly wearing down the enamel on your teeth, which can lead to sensitivity. By wearing a fitted mouthguard, you can stop your teeth from being damaged by your nighttime grinding.[2]

4. Gargle salt water

Gargling salt water helps to balance the pH of your mouth and minimises the growth of bacteria by creating a more alkaline environment. This also reduces plaque which, in turn, can help to prevent gum disease and cavities – both of which cause sensitivity.

To do this, simply mix two small teaspoons of table salt into a glass of cold water. Then, rinse this solution around your mouth after brushing and flossing, both in the morning and in the evening, until sensitivity improves.[3]

5. Watch what you eat and drink

Believe it or not, certain foods and drinks can make sensitive teeth worse. Foods and drinks that have an acidic pH, including fizzy drinks, coffee, fruit and pickles can eat away at the protective layers of your teeth. For this reason, if you suffer with sensitivity when you eat, you may want to think about reducing or even removing these foods from your diet until you experience some improvement.

It’s also worth noting that extremely hot and cold foods and drinks, such as ice cream, ice-cold drinks, hot soup and hot tea and coffee can also trigger sensitivity. So, waiting for items to warm up or cool down accordingly before you consume them can also help reduce the symptoms of sensitive teeth.[1]

 

6. Visit the dentist 

If you have tried some or all of the treatment methods mentioned above, but are still continuing to struggle with sensitive teeth, it’s time to book an appointment with your dentist. After carrying out a brief checkup, they may be able to identify a specific cause of your sensitivity. This might include finding a chipped or cracked tooth that requires a filling or noticing signs of receding gums or gum disease. Either way, they will be able to provide further advice on how to reduce teeth sensitivity and/or prescribe medication that can help with the condition.[1]

Resources: 

[1] https://www.dentalhealth.org/sensitive-teeth

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/teeth-grinding/

[3] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/toothache/

Neil Kotak
25/3/2022
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