What To Do About Sensitive Teeth
Picture a hot summer day. You’re lying on the beach, enjoying the sunshine, and taking a bite of an ice-cold popsicle, your teeth crunching through the cold, sweet treat as it sends a cool wave through your mouth.
If that sounds like the perfect treat for the perfect summer day, this is not the article for you. You’re fine—nothing to see here.
If, however, you’re currently cringing and trying to rid every inch of that image from your mind, there’s a good chance you have very sensitive teeth, in which case, this article is for you.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Having sensitive teeth is just one of those things, right? It’s a quirk of biology, something that some people have, and some people don’t. It’s like cringing at the sound of nails on a blackboard or desperately needing to pee when you hear running water.
You can’t control it; it’s all in your mind.
Except, that’s not how it works and there is a physical cause behind this seemingly psychological issue.
If you have sensitive teeth, it’s probably because your teeth are filled with minute fractures. The enamel, the outer layer of your teeth, may have worn down, leaving your nerves exposed. It’s these nerves that are activated when you drink cold liquids or eat ice-cold foods.
Simply put, your nerves are more exposed than they should be, and this is what causes pain and discomfort.
Causes and Solutions
While the cause of your discomfort is clear, the origins are a little muddier. Fortunately, when you know the cause, you can find a solution and start enjoying those popsicles once again. Damaged enamel and resulting in sensitivity issues can be caused by all of the following:
How hard do you brush? It’s a question that few people know how to answer because they don’t have anything to measure their brushing against.
But there are a few markers you can use.
Firstly, many electric toothbrushes will flash a red light when you are brushing too hard. Consumers have been known to ignore these lights and assume they have a defective device or misconstrue the reason the light is there in the first place.
If it keeps flashing or remains constant, you’re brushing far too hard and need to ease up.
As for manual toothbrushes, you just need to check the bristles. If they are worn and frayed after just a few weeks, you’re brushing too hard. They can fray after several months, but only slightly, and any damage that happens quickly or too severely is a huge red flag.
Bruxism is a condition that causes nighttime teeth grinding. It wears the enamel down and can occur for years without you realizing it.
Many times, sufferers will be informed of their condition by their partners, other times the news comes from their dentists, who can see that the back teeth have been worn down. Sometimes, the sufferer discovers the issue themselves when they wake to the sound of their own teeth grinding or cause some damage that results in broken enamel and/or sharp pain.
Gum and tooth disease can expose dentin and cause severe sensitivity. This is especially true if your gums have receded, leaving your nerves more exposed.
Gingivitis is one of the worst offenders, exposing your roots and causing the pain you feel when you sip an ice-cold drink.
Poor Dental Health
One of the biggest causes of tooth sensitivity is poor dental hygiene. Acidic foods and sugar can wear down the enamel, while bacteria can eat away at it, exposing roots and causing pain and discomfort.
You should be brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time. You should also floss and rinse your mouth following sugary or acidic meals—anything you can do to reduce bacteria and acidity.
Excessive Use of Whitening Toothpaste
If you’re using too much whitening toothpaste, you could be wearing down your enamel. Whitening toothpaste is highly abrasive as it’s designed to scrub away ingrained plaque and expose the white enamel underneath.
But if you use this to excess, it can wear your enamel down. Every now and then you need to swap that abrasive toothpaste for one with a high concentration of fluoride. Although this substance has gotten a bad rep in recent years and is the subject of countless conspiracy theories, it’s also one of the few substances that can keep your teeth strong and healthy.
By using a toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride and is highly abrasive, you’ll be attacking your teeth with a double-edged sword, creating sensitivity problems you may never recover from.
You might think that’s a good sacrifice to make for white teeth, but whitening toothpaste isn’t even that effective. It can only clean your enamel and can’t touch the dentin underneath, which is where many ingrained stains occur.
The only way to clean the dentin is to use a safe whitening kit like Snow. It won’t damage your teeth, gums, or lips; it can be applied safely at home, and it can be used in combination with fluoride toothpaste to create healthy, white, strong teeth.
Bottom Line: Sensitivity Solutions
The bad news about sensitive teeth is that some causes can’t be easily resolved. If your teeth are damaged after years of grinding, poor dental health, and other issues, there’s very little you can do.
However, if the issues have only just started, you can remedy them as soon as you find the source. And in all cases, you can find ways to lessen the pain and make those cold drinks and foods more palatable.
See a dentist about your issue, reduce your consumption of sugary and acidic foods, brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, stop smoking, and use a toothpaste designed for people with sensitive teeth.
Once you incorporate all of these changes into your life you should see a big improvement.