How to reduce teeth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is usually caused by worn enamel or exposed tooth roots, however, a poor oral hygiene routine could be the reason too. When you don’t brush your teeth as often as you should, plaque buildup can lead to cavities, which could explain why your teeth are sensitive.[1]

How to help sensitive teeth

If you experience tooth pain when eating very cold or hot foods, you may have sensitive teeth. Below, you can find out more about how to ease the pain, as well as foods that could help.

Use sensitive toothpaste

The first thing you can try is sensitive toothpaste. This product contains potassium nitrate that works to numb and soothe the nerves that are close to the surface of your teeth. This in turn can reduce the pain you regularly experience from cold or hot foods and drinks. These products may also contain a higher amount of fluoride, which can help to strengthen tooth enamel and create a protective barrier over your teeth.

You should try the toothpaste for at least a couple of months, using it twice a day, to see if it has an impact.[1]

Brush your teeth regularly

Regular oral cleaning is really important to maintain tooth and gum health. You must brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled brush. Brushing too hard or with a hard-bristled toothbrush can make the issue worse, so do treat the area gently.

You should floss regularly too, using special sensitive floss picks for people with sensitive teeth.[1]

Get a mouthguard

Sensitive teeth can be caused by grinding. When you grind your teeth, you slowly wear down their protective surface and could even chip a tooth. Therefore, if this is a habit you have, you should be sure to wear a mouthguard.

Mouthguards or maximum protection dental guards can be worn at night and stop your teeth from being damaged any further. You should speak to your dentist about whether one is needed to protect your teeth.[2]

If you believe you’ve damaged or chipped a tooth from grinding, you can use a temporary filler repair kit until you can get a dentist appointment.

Eat fewer acidic foods

Certain foods could make your sensitive teeth more painful, or even exacerbate the problem. Food and drink that has high acidity, such as citrus fruits and carbonated drinks, could wear away enamel further, so these should be reduced or even cut out altogether. Using a straw when you drink fizzy drinks, juices, squashes and wine can reduce the contact these liquids have on your teeth, which may help with sensitivity.

Sugar intake can lead to cavities, and this would definitely have an impact on the amount of pain you’re feeling. If you think you have a cavity, you should see a dentist, who may say that a filling is required. In reducing your sugar intake, you’re reducing the chance of cavities occurring.[1]

Use salt water

Gargling salt water, as you would mouthwash, can help to reduce your sensitive teeth. The salt helps to balance the pH of your mouth and creates a more alkaline environment that minimises bacterial growth. You can mix two teaspoons of salt with a small glass of water. Swill it around your mouth for around 30 seconds before spitting it out. Repeat this both morning and evening.[3]

Visit your dentist

Should you try some of our advice above and continue to struggle with your sensitive teeth, you should visit your dentist. They may be able to identify a chipped or cracked tooth that requires a filling, or could have further advice on how to reduce teeth sensitivity.[1]

What to eat with sensitive teeth

We’ve identified some of the foods that could make your sensitive teeth worse, but which foods can actually be good for your teeth?

Dairy products contain lots of calcium, which is good for both your teeth and bones. Therefore, milk, yoghurt and cheese can all help to strengthen your teeth – just be sure to check the sugar content of your yoghurt, as some products can be high in sugar.

Nuts are also high in calcium, but are an excellent source of vitamins E, B6 and niacin, as well as minerals like magnesium, zinc, copper and potassium. This makes them an excellent snack for people with sensitive teeth and may stop you from reaching for an acidic fruit.

Finally, high fibre foods are great for protecting your teeth. When we eat them, we produce lots of saliva in the mouth, which helps to break down bacteria and wash away very small bits of food that remain in the mouth. High-fibre foods include pears, apples, carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas, oats, popcorn and nuts.[4]

Resources:

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

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

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

[4] https://www.dentalhealth.org/blog/10-foods-and-drinks-with-surprising-oral-health-benefits

Neil Kotak
28/2/2022
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