Spring has hit in Parker, Colorado! It’s the time of year for yard cleanup, spring cleaning and garage sales, but don’t forget the importance of “spring cleaning” your mouth! Your oral health can impact much more than just your mouth. As you age, your gums have a propensity to recede, which can trigger periodontal gum disease and other problems. One common symptom of gum recession is tooth sensitivity. If left untreated, this condition can cause permanent damage including tooth, tissue and bone loss.
Summer is just around the corner. Popsicles, cold drinks and drippy ice cream cones can take some of the heat off a really hot day. Treat your tooth sensitivity now so you can enjoy a healthy mouth and the freedoms it brings all summer long.
Learn What Causes Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity is characterized by soreness in one or more teeth caused by hot and cold temperatures, sweet or sour foods and drinks, and even sucking in air through your teeth. The pain can be acute, abrupt and shoot deep into the nerve endings of your teeth. Sensitive teeth develop from receding gum tissue that uncovers the dentin, the underlying layer of your teeth. The gum tissue acts as a protective blanket over the tooth roots, which aren’t covered by hard enamel. They enclose thousands of tiny tubules (channels) that lead to the pulp (nerve center) of the tooth. These dentinal tubules allow sensations from hot, cold, sweet or sour foods to reach the nerve in your tooth, sending pain signals to your brain.
Tooth sensitivity is also more common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and increased blood flow. These hormonal changes put pregnant women at increased risk for gingivitis. If you’re pregnant, be sure to see your dentist and dedicate yourself to regular oral care including brushing and flossing at least twice a day. If you have pregnancy-related tooth sensitivity, choose a toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth. Most over-the-counter toothpastes offer such a version.
Check Your Toothbrush and Brushing Technique
One proactive thing you can do to help combat tooth sensitivity is to make sure you don’t brush too roughly. Hard brushing can cause your gum tissue to pull away from the teeth. Remember, hard brushing doesn’t just affect the gum tissue protecting your teeth; it also wears away your enamel. So if you aren’t using a soft-bristled toothbrush, switch to one now and stop brushing your teeth so hard.
Eliminate Whitening Products
Whitening strips, toothpastes and mouthwashes are abrasive and tax the enamel of your teeth. Avoid toothpaste that boasts tartar-control, whitening and baking soda ingredients. They contain phosphates which contribute to the breakdown of enamel. Also watch your use of some mouthwashes. Long-term use has shown to heighten tooth sensitivity when the acidic contents hit exposed dentin. If you know you have dentin sensitivity, ask Dr. Evanson about using a neutral fluoride solution.
Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Bruxism is the technical term for grinding or clenching your teeth. This subconscious habit occurs when you sleep and causes the gums to recede over time, exposing sensitive roots in the process. Speak with Dr. Evanson if you suspect you grind your teeth at night. She may prescribe a custom-fit mouthguard to protect your teeth while you sleep.
Watch What You Eat
The Mayo Clinic has several dietary recommendations for helping prevent tooth sensitivity:
- Limit acidic foods and drinks including carbonated beverages, citrus fruits, wine and yogurt. If you do drink acidic liquids, use a straw to limit contact with your teeth.
- After eating or drinking an acidic substance, drink water or milk to help balance the acidity levels in your mouth.
- Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking acidic substances because acid softens enamel and makes it more susceptible to erosion while brushing.
Practicing good dental health care is vital for keeping your mouth healthy. Strive to brush and floss at least twice a day. Flossing helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease by ridding your mouth of leftover food particles that contribute to bacteria in your mouth and on your teeth. Plaque residue on your teeth produces an acid that irritates your teeth and gums. When you suffer from tooth sensitivity, flossing may be the last thing you want to do, but it’s still very important. Choose floss designed for sensitive gums, which is twice as soft as regular floss and helps minimize your discomfort. While nothing can substitute regular six-month dental cleanings, applying these guidelines will combat your tooth sensitivity and help ensure good oral health.
Counsel With Your Dentist
Following a regular oral care routine is one of the best ways to reduce the pain of sensitive teeth. If you have a persistent sensitive tooth (or teeth) make an appointment with Dr. Evanson to find out if you have a cavity, infection or the beginnings of gum disease. If you catch sensitive tooth problems early, you can avoid a complicated dental procedure later. Dr. Evanson can also speak to you about the following in-office treatments for sensitive teeth:
- Root canal. You may need a root canal if your tooth sensitivity isn’t resolved through other treatment methods.
- Fluoride. Dr. Evanson may recommend an application of fluoride to the sensitive areas of your teeth to strengthen the enamel and reduce pain.
- Covering exposed root surfaces. If receding gums are the cause of your sensitive teeth, your dentist might apply a sealant to cover the exposed tooth roots.
- Desensitizing toothpaste. After several applications, desensitizing toothpaste can help block pain associated with sensitive teeth.
Call for a Consultation
If you or a loved one are currently experiencing tooth sensitivity or discomfort, now’s the time to take action! Call our Parker office today at (720) 409-0008 to speak to one of our team members or to arrange an appointment with Dr. Evanson.Leave a reply →