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Sensitive teeth - Prevention and Treatment

Are your teeth tender? Feeling pain when you eat or drink hot or cold? Does brushing or flossing make you scowl occasionally? You may have teeth sensitivity if breathing in cold air, or eating any acidic, hot, cold food makes your teeth painful or sensitive.

Why do we feel the pain?

The tooth roots are protectively coated with a thin layer of "Cementum". Under the enamel and the Cementum, lies a more porous layer called “Dentin" which contains thousands of tiny tubes that leads to the pulp, the tooth’s nerve center. Teeth sensitivity occurs when this dentin gets exposed. So, when any type of hot, sweet or cold food or liquid irritants come in contact with teeth or when high pressure is applied to them, it causes pain.

Diagnosis is vital to evaluate the reason for the sensitivity and the treatment is chosen accordingly. Some at-home treatments for teeth sensitivity recommended by a dentist are-

  • Buy a desensitizing toothpaste – Get a desensitizing toothpaste, it will help reduce sensitivity. It contains compounds that restrict the irritants from stimulating the nerve inside the tooth.
  • Fluoride rinse – You can take help of fluoride rinses, it can help reduce sensitivity, particularly for people with decay problems. Rinse your mouth with it after doing brush or flossing. Use it twice a day for effective results.
  • Brushing technique - It is crucial that you use a soft toothbrush. Also, brush your teeth gently because aggressive brushing may wear off the enamel, thus increasing the sensitivity of teeth.
  • Fluoride gel - If the desensitizing toothpaste is not showing any significant result, then your doctor can apply an in-office fluoride gel to strengthen the tooth enamel and reduce the sensation.
  • Gum grafting – If you have tooth sensitivity due to lost gum tissue, then your doctor can perform gum grafting.
  • It is a procedure where a small amount of gum tissue is taken from any part of your mouth and attached to the affected site. This will help protect exposed roots and reduce sensitivity.

Tips to prevent tooth sensitivity

  • Maintain a good oral hygiene.
  • Be sure to change your brush every 3 to 4 months. If you see the bristles of your brush frayed, then you should change it immediately.
  • Always use a soft-bristled brush and use a toothpaste that doesn’t have a high degree of abrasiveness. Avoid brushing your teeth from side to side. Instead, use small, circular movements.
  • Use toothpaste containing Fluoride.
  • Don't forget to floss regularly, as it helps in removing plaque and food particles on the gum line, between your teeth, which help reduce tooth sensitivity.
  • Prefer a diet low in acidic foods and drinks such as coffee, citrus fruits, carbonated drinks, or yogurt as the acidic content present in these food products acts as a catalyst in wearing off the tooth enamel. However, if you do have to consume acidic food as a part of your diet, then do drink a glass of milk afterward to neutralize the effect of the acid.
  • Make it a habit of wearing a mouth guard if you grind while sleeping as it can fracture teeth and cause sensitivity.
  • Pay regular visits to your dental professional.

The best way to prevent tooth sensitivity is to maintain oral hygiene routine. Visit your dentist if you have tried treating your sensitive teeth and have had no improvement. He can determine the problem and the best solution for your particular situation.