By Mary V., RDH
Having sensitive teeth is one of the most common problems that patients have. Symptoms can be felt when drinking hot, cold, or acidic liquids, or when eating sweet or crunchy foods. The nature of the sensitivity can be clues to help us discover the cause. Some common causes of tooth sensitivity can include receding gums, aggressive brushing, tooth decay, gum disease, bruxism (clenching and grinding). Each of these can create a breach in the hard protective layer of your teeth called enamel, exposing the softer dentin which is in direct communication with the nerves in the pulp. Recent dental restorations (fillings, crowns, etc…) or periodontal therapy (cleanings) can be traumatic to your teeth and cause short term inflammation in the pulp and the sensitivity that goes with it.
What can I do to stop sensitivity?
The good news is that we do have ways to help reduce, and often eliminate, sensitivity. First and foremost is good oral hygiene, including flossing. We recommend using a soft bristle or electric toothbrush with gentle pressure. Remember that aggressive brushing will only make you more sensitive. Try to avoid sugary and acidic foods. If you just can’t stay away from that glass of orange juice, try drinking through a straw and follow it with a glass of water or milk to buffer the acid. Wait about 30 minutes before brushing your teeth to allow the pH in your mouth to return to a normal level, otherwise your toothbrush could actually increase the erosive properties of the acids. There are several good sensitive toothpastes on the market. We find Colgate Pro Relief Sensitive and Sensodyne to be two of the best out there. In certain situation, we may recommend a prescription strength toothpaste or apply fluoride varnish for patients with severe sensitivity and a high risk of decay. Some people injure their teeth by clenching and grinding. A nightguard can protect your teeth from damage, but even better approach is talk with Dr. Forgosh about adjusting your bite so you are less inclined to clench and grind in the first place.
The most important thing you can do is come in to see us regularly. Let us know about any problems you are experiencing so we can discover and address the cause of the problem. Once we know what is going on in your mouth, we can recommend the best course of treatment for you.