What’s Causing the Pain?
Teeth sensitivity is a widespread problem and can cause gnawing pain and discomfort while your teeth come in contact with very hot and cold food. Sensitivity occurs when the protective sheath, namely the enamel is damaged due to rigorous brushing and rough handling.Once the enamel is damaged, the nerve endings get irritated and will lead to teeth sensitivity.
Sensitive teeth can be the result of any number of dental issues, including genetics. Focusing on the cause of your tooth sensitivity can better your understanding of how to treat it and prevent it from coming back. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), tooth sensitivity is usually triggered when eating hot or cold foods, and can be caused by:
- periodontal (gum) disease
- tooth decay and exposure of roots at the gumline
- aggressive toothbrushing
- wearing away of the enamel, the hard surface that protects the nerves of each tooth
Sensitive teeth are not only painful, but they can also begin to interfere with your daily life.
Here are few ways to find relief and reduce your tooth sensitivity
Preventing plaque Build Up
Build up of plaque is one reason for teeth sensitivity. Plaque can harden and crystallize and these hard deposits can emit acidic substances that can lead to nerve irritation and sensitivity. The problem becomes double fold if you have teeth that are naturally sensitive.
Therefore, for preventing plaque buildup, you must brush your teeth at least twice daily. While brushing, it is also important not to press hard as it can lead to more enamel damage and will worsen the sensitivity and damage the gums as well. While brushing, use an up and down motion to remove the plaque effectively.
Bring on the desensitizing toothpaste. Unfortunately, widespread tooth sensitivity due to enamel abrasion or gum-line recession can’t be treated with dental fillings. Instead, try brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste, which you can buy over the counter. These special toothpastes contain ingredients that diminish sensitivity by filling channels (known as tubules) in the dentin.
Try putting some of the toothpaste on your finger or on a cotton swab and spreading it over the sensitive spots before you go to bed. Spit, but don’t rinse. Within a few weeks, your teeth should begin to feel less sensitive.
There are many specialized toothpastes that help in removing the sensitivity of the teeth. These toothpastes do a good job by desensitizing the nerves and offering relief from the tingling pain while you consume hot and cold food items.
Certain compounds in the toothpaste help by blocking the sensations on the surface of the tooth to the nerve and hence prevent the tingling and pain temporarily. However, these toothpastes are not fast acting and require several sittings before they actually start working on the nerve. Again, while using these toothpastes, use a soft bristled brush to prevent further aggravation.
Try a fluoride rinse
Fluoride rinses, available without a prescription at your local pharmacy or in the dental section of grocery stores, can help decrease sensitivity, especially for people plagued with decay problems. Use it once a day. Swish it around in your mouth, then spit it out.
Sometimes, people with sensitive teeth need a stronger fluoride rinse or gel than the ones available over the counter. For example, some treatments for gum disease, such as root planing (which reduces plaque), can leave sensitive teeth even more sensitive than usual. In such situations, dentists can apply a fluoride gel that helps relieve the problem
Damaging the enamel will put the teeth under risk of damage. Teeth will soon become sensitive and cause pain and discomfort. If you have excess saliva or low saliva production in your mouth, this can lead to softening of the teeth and aggravate the sensitivity problem.
For hardening the tooth back to normalcy and desensitizing it, you can use baking soda. Take a quarter glass of water and add a quarter teaspoon of baking soda to this. Rinse your mouth or brush your mouth with this water.
Use a soft toothbrush
Often, people actually cause tooth sensitivity by brushing with too much force and/or brushing with a hard-bristled brush, which can damage the protective tooth enamel. When the gum-line recedes (often as a natural part of the aging process), exposed dentin becomes even more vulnerable to toothbrush abrasion. Use a brush with the softest bristles you can find, and apply only a small amount of pressure when brushing (actually, a lighter touch also allows the bristles to move more freely and do their job more effectively than when you press too hard).
Sealants are used for sealing the teeth so that the nerves are not irritated when you eat cold or hot foods. Sealants or bonding agents are normally made of a plastic material and act as a barrier to the teeth, protecting it from sensitivity. A dentist can apply the sealant on your tooth when you have teeth sensitivity.
It is a simple procedure that will help in keeping the discomfort at bay. However, extreme nerve irritations might require treatments like root canal for removing the pulp from the nerve and usage of a cap for protecting the teeth against chipping.
Say, “Enough!” to snuff
Chewing tobacco, also known as “dip” or “snuff,” is a popular habit in some groups, especially among many male teenagers. They mistakenly believe it’s less harmful than smoking cigarettes. However, in addition to causing mouth cancers, chewing tobacco causes the gums to recede, a major cause of gum sensitivity and decay. Just as there is no safe cigarette, there is no safe tobacco.
Habits like sucking on hard candy, while certainly healthier than chewing snuff, can also cause enamel abrasion and tooth sensitivity.
Though this might seem to be an immature suggestion, using a chewing gum will actually help in treating sensitive teeth. Chewing a sugarless variety of chewing gum will help in the production of saliva and this will help in the re hardening of softened teeth. However, care must be take not to chew too hard or use a sugar coated chewing gum to protect your teeth from further trouble.
Teeth grinding at night is a common problem, especially prevalent among kids. To prevent the teeth from chipping and also to prevent damage to the enamel while grinding your teeth, it is recommended that you wear a night guard to protect your teeth.
Night guard will help in protecting the enamel while sleeping and this will prevent exposure of the roots and possible sensitivity. Night guards are available in all medical shops.
Stop Sugary And Acidic Foods
This is very important when you have teeth sensitivity. Along with the home remedies mentioned above, controlling the intake of sugary and acidic foods is a must. Fruit juices that are acidic like cit us fruit and sweets must be kept at bay to prevent further damage to the enamel and also to control the sensitivity as well. It is also important to stop smoking and chewing tobacco if you have such bad habits as these habits will lead to receding of the gums and cause gum sensitivity and gum decay in the long run.
Two Ayurvedic Remedies Curb Hypersensitivity
A revealing study comes from the Department of Public Health Dentistry of India’s People’s University. The researchers performed a study on 73 sensitive teeth among 13 patients. After randomizing into three groups, the researchers gave an extract of Indian Propolis, a product called GC Tooth Mousse or sterile water to the patients for three weeks.
They measured the patients for teeth sensitivity at the beginning of the trial, and every week thereafter, and of course at the end of the three weeks.
The research found that the Ayurvedic propolis extract significantly reduced the sensitivity among a majority of the teeth. In the beginning of the study, among the propolis group, 4 teeth were mildly sensitive, 14 teeth were moderately sensitive and 7 teeth were severely sensitive. After the first application (at seven days), 6 teeth had no sensitivity, 7 were mild, 11 were moderate and only one was severe. After the fourth application – at week four, 3 teeth had no sensitivity, 15 had mild sensitivity, 7 had moderate, and 0 had severe sensitivity.
These are great results for only four applications. However, the greatest improvement in sensitivity came with a product called GC tooth mousse. In this group, 7 were severe, 9 were moderate and 7 were mild at the beginning of the study. At the end of the fourth week, 16 teeth had no sensitivity while 8 had mild sensitivity.
The active ingredient in the GC tooth mousse product is casein phosphopeptide – common name recaldent (also CPP-ACP). This is isolated from casein – a protein contained in milk.
Recaldent is best known as a teeth remineralizer. A number of studies have shown that recaldent-containing toothpastes and gums are able to reduce dental caries. Others have shown the ingredient can significantly remineralize the teeth.
As far as reducing dental caries, large 24-month study of 2,720 people found that recaldent gum reduced dental caries by 18%.
Is casein phosphopeptide a natural remedy?
So why do I include this as a natural remedy? While most toothpastes containing recaldent also contain numerous chemicals, casein phosphopeptide is a casein metabolite, easily obtained from eating fresh yogurt. This is a practice that Ayurvedic medicine and cuisine has utilized for thousands of years – accompanying meals with fresh yogurt.
This is backed up by science too. A study from the School of Dentistry at Italy’s University of Naples Federico tested 80 human molars with natural casein phosphopeptides (CPPs) from yogurt. The research found that the CPPs significantly increased the mineralization of the molars. The researchers concluded:
“The results demonstrated that CPPs contained in yogurt have an inhibitory effect on demineralization and promote the remineralization of dental enamel.”
Other studies have found the CPPs from yogurts and other fermented dairy products beneficial, not only for the teeth but for the immune system.
Why is yogurt – along with other fermented milk products like kefir – so special? Because the beneficial bacteria involved in the fermenting process break down casein into its metabolites.
When to See a Doctor About Tooth Sensitivity
- While you can often self-treat generalized tooth sensitivity, see your dentist if:
- Your teeth are persistently sensitive to pressure.
- A single tooth is persistently sensitive, which could indicate that its pulp is infected or dying.
- Sensitivity doesn’t decrease after two weeks of using desensitizing toothpaste.
- You have dental pain that lasts more than an hour.
- The gums around a sensitive tooth change color.
- You have any obvious decay.
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