In the summertime, one of life’s small pleasures is sitting down to enjoy a bowl of ice cream on a hot day. Unfortunately, it may not be all that pleasant for someone with sensitive teeth! Sensitivity affects your overall quality of life and keeps you from enjoying your favorite foods and beverages. Since it’s such a common problem, we thought we’d write a blog to give you five of the best tips for both reducing and preventing it. Some of these tips are things you can do at home and some you can talk to your dentist about at your next checkup. Find out more today!
Try Topical Fluoride
Fluoride is a mineral that has multiple benefits for your teeth. Not only does it strengthen your enamel and prevent cavities, it also puts a hard, protective coating over the teeth and exposed root surfaces.
Without this coating, the nerves can easily pick up sensation from hot and cold, which can be painful.
Your dentist can prescribe a high-fluoride toothpaste that’s designed specifically for sensitive teeth or you can get fluoride varnishes at your checkups. Some patients get relief from doing both!
Use the Right Toothbrush
It seems like a hard-bristled brush would do a better job cleaning your teeth and gums. However, hard bristles can wear away at the enamel as well as the sensitive roots of the teeth.
If you’re brushing for two minutes and using good technique, a soft-bristled brush will do a great job getting your teeth clean – without doing any damage!
Use Sensitivity Toothpaste
These types of toothpaste have special ingredients, like potassium nitrate, that can help protect the nerves of the teeth. It works a lot like fluoride and will put a protective coating over any sensitive spots.
The effects of sensitivity toothpaste are cumulative, so it may take 2-3 weeks of consistent use before you notice a difference.
Be Careful With Acidic Foods
If you enjoy acidic foods and beverages, try to keep them to a minimum and consume them in one sitting instead of grazing throughout the day. The less frequently your teeth are exposed to acids, the less likely you are to develop both sensitivity and cavities! Here are some examples:
- Carbonated beverages (including diet soda)
- Orange juice
- Citrus fruits
Also, avoid brushing your teeth for at least 20 minutes after consuming one of these foods and simply rinse your mouth out with water. The acid will temporarily soften your enamel, which puts your teeth at risk for toothbrush abrasion and increased sensitivity.
Ask Your Dentist About Clenching and Grinding
Unconscious clenching and grinding can increase sensitivity by wearing down the enamel, causing the gums to recede and exposing the sensitive roots of the teeth. Ask your dentist at your next checkup if you have signs of this common nighttime habit.
If you do grind your teeth, wearing a nightguard to bed can help prevent further recession and the sensitivity that goes with it.
Sensitive teeth are no fun. But with these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to stay comfortable and enjoy life to the fullest. No more missing out on ice cream on those hot days!
About the Author
Dr. Suzan Rismani-Flenniken is passionate about oral health. With over 20 years of experience in general, restorative and cosmetic dentistry, she’s helped many of her patients overcome sensitive teeth and enjoy all of their favorite foods and drinks again. If you have any questions, she can be contacted via her website or at (703) 714-7374.