How to Treat Sensitive Teeth

how to treat sensitive teeth

As many as 1 in 8 Americans have sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity isn’t a naturally occurring issue; rather, it’s usually a sign that something needs attention. At Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, we understand how uncomfortable tooth sensitivity can be. Keep reading to learn what causes it and for tips on how to treat sensitive teeth.

Are Your Teeth Sensitive, or Are Your Gums the Problem?

If you’re experiencing discomfort in your mouth, it may be hard to discern where the pain originates. Look for these signs that may indicate gum issues rather than problems with the teeth:

  • Tenderness when brushing. Even if it appears that your teeth are sore when you brush, it’s more likely to be your gums. 
  • Redness or swelling. Take a good look in your mouth. If your gums are red or swollen, contact your dentist to check for gingivitis. 
  • Bleeding. If you notice blood in your mouth, it is likely coming from your gums, not your teeth. Contact your dentist right away if the bleeding persists.

Reasons For Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity is not a natural condition—it develops as years pass due to destructive habits, such as: 

  • An acidic diet. Excessive consumption of acidic foods or beverages causes teeth to erode. Such foods or beverages include soda, coffee, processed foods, and certain meat or fish. This is one of the many reasons a balanced diet is important!
  • Too much sugar. Sugar is a natural enemy of enamel, the protective layer of teeth. It’s incredibly acidic, and can cause lasting damage to your mouth. 
  • Teeth grinding. Most people do this without realizing it while they’re sleeping or under stress. It sounds harmless, but when you do it for years at a time, it destroys enamel and may cause sensitivity or pain. 
  • Brushing too hard can irritate your teeth.

Underlying Conditions

Particularly if symptoms suddenly arise and gradually worsen, an underlying condition may be the culprit. At your appointment, your dentist will look for signs of the following:

  • Cavities. Cavities, or tooth decay, can cause sensitivity and/or pain. 
  • Abscessed tooth. An abscessed tooth is caused by a bacterial infection. It is often due to an untreated cavity that eats into the dentin of your tooth. 
  • A fractured or chipped tooth. 
  • Impacted wisdom teeth—if you’re within the typical age range (late teens – early 20s).

How to Treat Sensitive Teeth at Home

Pain or sensitivity in your teeth can be brutal and debilitating. If the pain begins suddenly, it’s a good idea to contact your dentist right away. In the meantime, there are several ways to ease tooth sensitivity at home: 

  • Maintain good oral hygiene to reduce your chances of oral health issues. Keep up with daily brushing and flossing and bi-annual check-ups—you know the drill!
  • Apply ice to the affected area. 
  • Use tea tree oil—this essential oil has beneficial properties that have been proven to ease tooth and gum pain. It should never be swallowed, so be sure to keep it out of reach of young children. You can find dental products that contain tea tree oil at a pharmacy or health food store. 
  • Rinse with salt and hot water. Go for naturally-produced salts, such as Himalayan sea salt. 
  • Stop grinding your teeth. If you catch yourself grinding your teeth when you’re nervous, make it a point to stop. If you do it unconsciously at night, a mouth guard can help curb this habit. It can be very harmful to your teeth and jaw.
  • Brush longer, not harder. You can effectively remove plaque without hurting your teeth by brushing too hard. Just brush for a few minutes longer, and more thoroughly, using a soft-bristled toothbrush. 

Your Local Dentist in Gilbert 

Our team of experts at Lifetime Family Dental knows exactly how to treat sensitive teeth. Never miss your biannual check-ups—keeping up with your professional cleanings and exams can go a long way in preventing tooth sensitivity in the first place. We’re your partners on your journey to excellent oral health.

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