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Sensitive teeth or dentin hypersensitivity is one of the leading causes of oral pain. Characterized by a temporary, yet sharp kind of pain, it is often triggered by different stimuli such as changes in temperature or the acidity of the food that you eat.
Teeth sensitivity is a very serious problem that a lot of people often take for granted. But given the fact that it can hinder you from enjoying simple pleasures such as drinking a cup of coffee or eating a chocolate sundae, it should be something that you want to have treated in the soonest time possible. When left untreated, sensitive teeth can worsen, and you will begin to experience pain when you eat or drink anything, even when you try to brush or floss your teeth.
What is Sensitive Teeth?
First of all, your teeth contain an innermost layer called the pulp which is very sensitive. The pulp is found within the dentin and it is encased in a hard layer called the enamel; the enamel protects the pulp and allows us to chew food properly. But when the enamel gets damaged by bacteria or by some other factors, stimulus such as sudden changes in temperature and food acids will now be able to easily trigger pain. But it’s not just worn tooth enamel that can cause sensitivity; there are cases where the pain is caused by exposed roots due to receding gum lines. Bacteria isn’t also the only culprit, other factors such as bruxism can wear out your enamel, and chipped teeth, dental cavities, teeth bleaching and even some dental procedures can easily cause sensitive teeth as well.
Signs and Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth
Typically caused by the wearing-out of your teeth’s enamel, sensitive can be taken as a sign that you have not been taking care of your teeth properly. Bacterial deposits or plaques as you might have already known, attack your teeth’s surfaces by producing sugar acids that slowly erode your teeth, exposing the dentin or even the pulp which contain nerve endings. Typical signs and symptoms of teeth sensitivity can include:
- Pain when eating or drinking hot or cold foods and beverages
- Discomfort when eating sweet, sour or acidic food or drinks
- Sharp pain on your teeth when breathing-in cold air
- Pain when pressure is applied to the teeth’s surface especially during chewing
- Discomfort when flossing, and brushing your teeth
Dentists say that dentin sensitivity is normal to a certain degree; but when something as simple as drinking cool water or eating ice cream can trigger severe pain on your teeth, you might want to deal with it before it gets any worse.
Possible Causes for Sensitive Teeth
As mentioned, sensitive teeth is often caused by the worn-out teeth enamel and although the usual suspect tends to be bacterial plaque and the lack of proper oral hygiene, there are actually other factors that you need to be aware of. Some of the causes for sensitive teeth include:
- Teeth grinding – Grinding your teeth intentionally or subconsciously as you sleep can often cause a lot of damage to your teeth enamel. Without proper care from a dentist and without the help of a mouth guard, your teeth’s dentin will be exposed, providing access to different pain-causing stimuli through tubules that lead directly towards the nerve endings within the pulp.
- Too much food or too much brushing – There are a lot of people who tend to drink a lot of soda, eat a lot of sweets or a lot of sour foods and what most of these people don’t know is that their eating habit can cause the deterioration of their teeth. Conversely, people who tend to go overboard when it comes to brushing their teeth can do the same thing. This is because although hard-bristled toothbrushes and constant brushing can remove bacteria and plaque buildup, it can also strip your teeth of its protective layers which will also lead to the exposure of your dentin.
- Using the wrong oral care products – People who often use harsh or concentrated and acidic mouth wash are also causing more harm than good. Strong acids can also lead to the deterioration of your teeth and so does the chemicals found in many conventional toothpastes. Some toothpaste contain hydrated silica which are known to scratch the surface of your teeth, preventing proper re-mineralization and making your teeth susceptible to damage and sensitivity.
- Teeth Whitening – Teeth whitening procedures can drastically improve your teeth’s appearance, yet they can actually cause a lot of damage to your teeth. A lot of people often complain about suffering from sensitivity problems right after getting teeth whitening procedures. And though dentists often say that these “zingers” or the onset of a sudden sharp pain are temporary, there are those who say that their teeth sensitivity problems have persisted for months. Teeth bleaching can be very harsh on your teeth’s enamel and even whitening toothpastes can contain chemicals which can do more harm than good for your teeth.
- Gum diseases or Bacterial Plaques – Bacteria can cause a lot of damage on your teeth; when it affects your gums, it can cause it to recede exposing the roots of your teeth which is very sensitive. Plaques as mentioned, can easily wear your teeth away, this is why it is always best to maintain proper oral hygiene and have your teeth checked by the dentist when problems arise.
- Cracked teeth or Problems with tooth fillings – Cracks on your teeth are often hard to see or detect with the naked eye, yet they can expose the inner layers of your teeth to different stimuli, thus triggering severe pain. Your teeth can also decay around fillings, these areas often deteriorate over time and they become susceptible to bacterial attacks. It is also very possible for the fillings itself to deteriorate over time, leading to leakage and other issues which can make your teeth very sensitive.
- Recent Dental Procedures – Although temporary, some dental procedures can make your teeth sensitive. If the sensitivity does continue, you might want to visit your dentist again so that you will know what is causing it and how it can be treated.
How to Prevent Sensitive Teeth
Preventing teeth sensitivity can be as simple as brushing your teeth regularly. The leading cause of sensitive teeth is bacteria and you need to regularly maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth daily. Of course, you will want to avoid exerting too much force when brushing your teeth and you should also consider buying the right toothbrush as well as the correct oral care products. This is because conventional toothpastes, harsh mouthwashes and even the wrong toothbrush can make your teeth sensitive.
And of course, if you want to avoid having sensitive teeth, you should also watch what you eat and drink. The constant intake of acidic beverages, sour or sweet foods can easily wear your teeth. You should also eat right, there are dentists who believe that most dental problems arise as a result of eating too much junk or processed food.
Seeing your dentist is also necessary, you have to try to have your teeth cleaned at least once or twice a year so you can keep bacterial plaques from forming around your teeth. You should also try to avoid teeth whitening procedures if you know you have sensitive teeth and you should see your dentist right away should you suffer from prolonged or severe sensitivity.
15 Home Remedies and Tips that you can Use to Get Rid of Sensitive Teeth
Sensitive teeth pain can come when you least expect it, fortunately, with the help of these simple home remedies and tips, you might be able to keep the pain at bay or at least temporarily put a stop to it until you can get professional help. Here are 10 home remedies that you can try to alleviate sensitive teeth:
- Cinnamon Oil – This oil can provide instant relief for sensitive teeth pain, this oil is best used as soon as you feel pain on your teeth after consuming hot or cold food or beverages.
- Clove Oil – Used for all sorts of pain on your teeth and gums, this oil contains amazing properties that can help soothe the pain, eliminate bacteria and provide protection for both teeth and gums.
- Baking Soda – Baking soda helps desensitize your teeth, it can help provide protection for your teeth enamel and it also promotes proper re-mineralization. You can mix less than a teaspoon of baking soda in half a cup of water, use this solution for brushing or you can rinse your mouth with it.
- Lukewarm water and salt – A lukewarm or warm saline solution is one of the simplest home remedies for sensitive teeth. A teaspoon of salt in half a glass of lukewarm water, used for gargling or swooshed in your mouth can easily provide relief for pain caused by teeth sensitivity.
- Rock salt and Mustard oil – When made into a paste, mustard oil mixed with rock salt is known to help lessen the pain caused by sensitive teeth. Combine rock salt with mustard oil to form a paste and apply to the affected areas for at least 4 minutes and rinse.
- Garlic – Crushed garlic has many healing properties which can help eliminate bacteria and lessen sensitive teeth pain. You can crush a clove of garlic and apply it on your teeth for fast relief.
- Honey – Honey has both soothing and healing properties and it may provide relief for sensitive teeth. Dissolve a spoonful of honey in warm water and rinse your mouth with it. You can even use this solution every day to help make your teeth stronger.
Aside from these home remedies, you might also want to consider the following tips:
- Lessen your intake of coffee, soda and fruit juices or at least stop taking it for a few days until your teeth is no longer hypersensitive
- Alkaline water may help neutralize acids and help strengthen your teeth
- Look out for cracked teeth and seek help for receding gums
- Floss and brush your teeth regularly
- Avoid eating sweets and citrus fruits
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush as well as a gentle mouth wash
- Avoid eating hard candies and opt for sugarless gum instead
- Instead of conventional toothpastes and teeth whitening products, use natural oral care products or products that contain natural ingredients that can help whiten your teeth naturally as well as strengthen and protect your teeth.