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How to Care for Sensitive Teeth

Having sensitive teeth can be much more irritating than it sounds. Limiting the things you eat and drink, affecting your oral care routine, and causing daily pain… The impact sensitive teeth can have on our everyday lives can be draining.

When you are suffering with your teeth, it’s best to find professional advice from your dentist. If you’re wondering about things you can do to at home to help with sensitive teeth, this guide should be a good place to start. We’ll explain what causes sensitive teeth, what helps with sensitive teeth, and the kind of treatments your dentist might suggest.

How Do I Know if I Have Sensitive Teeth?

People with sensitive teeth are often more sensitive to temperature changes. You might feel varying levels of pain or discomfort, depending on the trigger. The pain associated with sensitive teeth should only be temporary, and should quickly wear off after exposure to the trigger.

Many people will feel discomfort in their teeth if they eat overly hot or cold foods. This doesn’t necessarily mean your teeth are a cause for concern, as feeling some sensitivity is completely normal. It’s when this sensitivity feels like it’s coming from deeper within the tooth or gums that it becomes a dental problem.

Who is At Risk of Sensitive Teeth?

Anyone is at risk of developing sensitive teeth. Some factors mean certain groups are more likely to have trouble with sensitivity.

  • Children and teenagers are more likely to eat sugary foods, so they’re more likely to be at risk of tooth decay. Encouraging children to eat healthily can help avoid further problems.
  • Smokers are more likely to have sensitive teeth. Tobacco is full of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, nicotine, and ammonia, which cause an imbalance in oral bacteria. Smoking therefore causes receding gums, can increase the risk of tooth decay, and leave teeth feeling sensitive.
  • People who drink alcohol expose their mouth to more sugary and acidic beverages. Alcohol can also dry the mouth out, removing healthy saliva that helps remove plaque from teeth. Reducing your alcohol intake can reduce your risk of developing sensitive teeth. Drinking alcohol through a straw can limit the amount of acid on your teeth. Alternating with water to clear the teeth between alcoholic drinks can also help (and reduce a hangover)!

Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth

The symptoms of sensitive teeth include:

  • Discomfort around the affected tooth (or teeth)
  • Pain at the root of the teeth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold drinks
  • Pain or discomfort when teeth are touched, or when you’re eating
  • Sensitivity when brushing teeth and flossing

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

If you’re having issues with your teeth, you’re probably wondering what causes sensitive teeth in the first place.

Sensitive teeth are caused by worn down enamel, which exposes the inner layer of the teeth to external temperatures and touch.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of things that can lead to worn enamel – and therefore cause sensitive teeth. Some of these things are beyond our control, while some can be managed by making healthier decisions surrounding our lifestyle or diet.

Grinding Teeth

Some of us are prone to clenching and grinding their teeth at night. This phenomenon is called bruxism. You might not realise it’s happening until your dentist notices during a check-up. Your partner might also notice you’ve been grinding your teeth in your sleep. You may wake with tension headaches that can come back throughout the day. Another symptom is sensitive teeth. This happens because clenching and grinding our teeth wears down the enamel over time. In the most extreme cases, grinding our teeth can cause cracks and breakages, loose teeth, and even issues with speaking.

There are a few things you can do to reduce the chance – and the impact – of grinding your teeth at night.

·       Mouthguards

If your dentist notices you’ve been grinding your teeth, they might prescribe you a mouthguard to wear at night. This reduces the impact between your teeth by separating your bite with a custom-made, protective guard. This cushioning effect also reduces the tension that builds up in your jaw as you grind your teeth, so it can also prevent headaches. You can also use shop-bought mouthguards from the pharmacy, though these won’t be moulded to fit your teeth. They’ll be more uncomfortable, and likely made of tougher material.

·       Reducing stress

This is easier said than done, but trying to reduce your stress levels can help with bruxism. Although we often don’t realise we’re doing it, many of us also clench our jaw during the day – particularly while we’re feeling anxious. Engaging in some stress-relieving habits can help reduce the mental strain we’re going through, which in turn can limit the physical impact this has on our bodies. Make sure you’re getting enough exercise, consider practicing meditation or breathing patterns, or try connecting with a therapist to talk about your anxiety.

·       Speaking to your GP

Certain medications make people more prone to grinding their teeth. SSRIs are commonly prescribed antidepressants, that unfortunately can lead to bruxism. As above, reducing stress can limit the impact of your teeth grinding. However, those of us suffering with our mental health are more likely to be stressed – so this one is a tricky one to manage. Consider talking to your GP about alternative medications that may have less damaging side effects, or discuss ways you can get help to relieve stress.

Overbrushing

Being strict with your brushing and flossing routine is a good thing, but it’s possible to overdo it. Rigorous brushing can have an abrasive effect on our teeth and gums.

It might feel like you’re doing a good job as you scrub away at your teeth, but you might be wearing down the enamel yourself. Consider using soft bristled brushes, or an electric toothbrush with a warning light for when you brush too hard. Look for a sensitive toothpaste with ingredients that help restore enamel. Sensitive toothpastes are also often less abrasive than usual toothpastes.

Plaque Build-up

When plaque builds up on our teeth, it can cause sensitivity as it comes into contact with the root or gums. Plaque can also have an impact on the enamel, wearing it down and exposing inner layers of the teeth.

You can work on avoiding the build-up of plaque by maintaining good oral hygiene and switching up your diet. Brush twice a day or after meals, eat a healthy diet, find the ideal toothbrush and toothpaste products for your teeth, and visit the dentist regularly. Below, you’ll find more information on how to limit plaque build-up by thinking about your diet.

What Should I Eat If I Have Sensitive Teeth?

As one of the main causes of tooth sensitivity, plaque is a problem for many of us. Being careful about our diet can help limit the development of plaque. This will reduce the chance of our teeth becoming sensitive – or even decaying because of the natural chemical reactions that happen when we eat unhealthy foods.

Remember your mouth is full of organisms that contribute to your oral health. Plaque carries bacteria that can react with sweet foods. When the bacteria in plaque encounters certain sugars, an acid is formed. This acid can dissolve the enamel on teeth over time, leading to sensitivity.

There are some simple, yet effective, changes you can make to your diet to reduce the chances of plaque and sensitive teeth.

  • Avoid eating too many sugary foods, desserts, and unhealthy snacks.
  • Be wary of other foods in your diet. It’s not just sweet foods that contribute to plaque. Note that carbs eventually break down and turn into sugars once they’re stuck in the teeth. Brush your teeth after eating carbs, or limit your intake of carby foods.
  • Try to avoid snacking between mealtimes, as this increases the amount of acid in the mouth throughout the day. Plaque starts to form just 20 minutes after we eat!
  • Limit your exposure to hot and cold food and drinks. If you have sensitive teeth, you’ll likely have developed an aversion to overly hot or cold things anyway, as they can increase pain. Continue to avoid these until your teeth are better.

The main thing is to manage your diet and keep on top of your oral hygiene. Avoiding the build-up of plaque in the first place would be ideal, but it does happen. Ask your dentist for some more personalised tips on how to manage your diet and reduce plaque build-up when you have sensitive teeth.

Should I See My Dentist About Sensitive Teeth?

If your sensitive teeth are bothering you, it makes sense to see your dentist! Attending your six-monthly check-ups (as a minimum) is the best way to stay on top of any sensitivity issues as they occur. Stick to your appointments, or book in to see your dentist if you think there’s something that needs to be done quickly.

At your appointment, your dentist will examine your teeth to look for signs of worn down enamel or even tooth decay. Any cracked or chipped teeth can cause sensitivity and further pain, so they’ll also check for any signs of broken teeth. It’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to dental health. Book an appointment today if your sensitive teeth are bothering you.

Find Solutions to Sensitive Teeth with Ringway Dental

At Ringway Dental, we’ve been helping people with sensitive teeth in Manchester for decades. Based in Cheadle, our private dental surgery offers a range of services that can help with sensitive teeth. If you have sensitive teeth, book an appointment with us. We’ll examine your teeth and identify the best treatment options to manage your oral health. Here’s how we can help:

Dental hygiene treatments. We offer deep cleaning treatments that work to free the mouth of plaque, reducing the chance of sensitive teeth and decay. This can often be more of a preventative measure than a cure, so keep on top of your dental hygiene appointments. Our treatments can be tailored to your teeth, starting from £55.

High-fluoride treatments. If you already have exposed dentin, we may offer high-fluoride prescriptions to help build up your teeth. These might come in the form of a mouthwash, toothpaste, or gel. This works to harden the enamel, reducing sensitivity and preventing further damage.

Root canal. Exposed nerve endings are prone to infection, causing increased pain and sensitivity. You might need a root canal treatment where we’ll gently clean and fill the tooth to prevent infection and reduce pain.

Whichever treatment you need for your sensitive teeth, our team at Ringway Dental will ensure you have a fuss-free experience throughout.

To get started with us, get in touch via our online contact form. You can also call the surgery on 0161 437 2029 to chat with our friendly and knowledgeable team. Alternatively, you can book a free online smile consultation to discuss your expectations with our Smile Advisor on Zoom!

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Ringway Dental

Visit us

  • 187 Finney Lane
  • Heald Green
  • Cheadle, SK8 3PX

Visit us

  • 187 Finney Lane
  • |
  • Heald Green
  • |
  • Cheadle
  • |
  • SK8 3PX
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