If you've ever eaten or had something to drink that was either too cold or too hot, you know the frustration and utter pain associated with having sensitive teeth. Sensitive teeth can affect you at virtually any time and at any age. Some people experience sensitive teeth after filling work has been done. Others find that their sensitive tooth problems come when using a harsher toothpaste or toothbrush. Some individuals don't know what's causing their sensitivity and just try their best to deal with the pain.
How Common Is It To Have Sensitive Teeth?
A survey done among dentists has concluded that one in every eight patients has sensitive tooth problems. This is a staggering number because it can affect the way that a person eats, drinks and generally lives. You may even assume that there is something wrong with your teeth because they're always hurting you. Sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity, occurs when the dentin, which is the inner layer of the tooth, gets exposed. It can also result from having receding gums, which exposes more of the dentin layer. Unfortunately, while your body is an amazing healer, it does not replenish its tooth enamel. So, as they say, once it's gone, it's gone.
When to Talk to a Dentist
If you're experiencing a significant amount of pain with little to no relief, it's time to speak with your dental professional. A dentist can perform a sealant procedure, which coats the teeth with a thin material. This material acts as a barrier between your teeth and anything that might cause that shock of pain that you've become so accustomed to feeling. However, before you run off to the dentist, there is a wide range of home remedies that you can try to relieve your discomfort.
Causes of Sensitive Teeth
- Whitening Treatments - Whitening your teeth might seem like a great way to spruce up your smile, but the harsh peroxide and whitening gels tear away at the enamel every time you use them. You might have noticed that people who whiten their teeth a lot have teeth that almost look translucent, and this is a sign that their enamel is worn down. Reducing the amount of enamel you have exposes that layer of dentin, which is a surefire way to experience sensitivity symptoms.
Harsh Brushing - If you're using a medium to hard bristle brush, you're wearing away at the enamel and your gums every time you brush your teeth. There's a reason why most toothbrushes available on the market have soft bristles and why your dentist gives you a soft bristle brush when you go for your bi-annual cleanings.
Acidic Foods - Foods like oranges, lemons and grapefruits are incredibly acidic and can lead to enamel breakdown. However, most processed and sugary foods are also acidic in nature. Sugary candy, carb-laden bread and soda are all a feast for the germs living in your mouth. When you eat any of these foods, the bacteria in your mouth eat away at them, which also means the breakdown of your tooth enamel.
Tooth Grinding - You might well know that you grind your teeth, but some people are unaware of this awful habit. Tooth grinding, whether it's done during the day because of stressful situations or at night while you're unaware it's happening, wears down not only the enamel on the biting surfaces of your teeth, but it will also wear down the cusps of the tooth, which are those ridged points that give your teeth their unique shape.
Harsh Toothpastes and Mouthwashes - We all want gorgeous white teeth and oftentimes, you'll pick up toothpaste and mouthwash that specifically says that it's going to whiten your smile. Unfortunately, the harsh chemicals in these products wear away at the enamel and can cause temporary sensitivity while in use.
Dental Procedures - Whether you've gone for a filling, root canal or for a simple bi-annual cleaning, the procedure may leave your teeth feeling extra sensitive. The sensitivity that you get from these procedures is often temporary, so giving it about a week will help to restore your smile to how it felt before visiting the dentist.
- Cracks and Decay - There are times when the sensitivity you're experiencing isn't the enamel wearing down at all. The pain you have could be the result of a crack in the tooth, which is exposing either the dentin inside or the entire nerve, or you might have decay which needs to be drilled out and replaced with a filling.
How to Prevent Sensitive Teeth
The best way to prevent sensitive teeth is for you to be aware of your diet, reduce the amount of sugar and carbs you're eating and to make a trip to the dentist if you feel the sensitivity is due to an underlying problem like a cavity or crack. Also, change your toothbrush to a softer bristle and avoid whitening products until your teeth feel better. If you have problems with grinding, you can buy a special mouthpiece that is worn at night to prevent the grinding from affecting your teeth.
Home Remedies to Try
- Coconut Oil - You might have heard of oil pulling, which uses a high-quality oil like coconut to coat the teeth and protect them against cavities and gum issues. Oil pulling is ideal for those who have sensitivity, and the best oil to use is coconut because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. In order to begin the process, you'll want to use about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of coconut oil and let it melt in your mouth. Swish the oil around your mouth as you would a mouthwash and then spit.
Salt Water Rinse - Salt water can balance the natural pH of the mouth and helps to decrease inflammation. Combine a teaspoon of pure sea salt into a cup of warm water and rinse with it for roughly 30 seconds. You will experience an immediate relief of your sensitivity, and some even feel this is a sensitive teeth cure because of how quickly it works.
Clove Oil - While you might not realize it, dentists will actually use clove oil for patients complaining of pain or sensitivity. Clove contains an ingredient known as eugenol, which is an active anesthetic. You can purchase clove oil at most stores that sell essential oils. Using a q-tip, you'll place a small amount of clove oil on the tooth that's bothering you and remove the q-tip once the tooth is coated with the oil.
Garlic - Sure, garlic isn't going to help your breath at all, but it'll relieve the pain you're experiencing in just a few minutes. Some even swear by garlic when they have an abscessed tooth and are unable to get to the dentist right away. To use garlic for sensitivity issues, you'll want to crush a clove into small bits and mix it with some water to create a paste. Apply the paste to your teeth using a toothbrush, leave for a minute and rinse with warm water.
- Onion - Onion contains an ingredient known as quercetin, which calms sensitivity and inflammation. It's long been used to heal the body of pain and discomfort. To use onion for sensitivity, you'll cut a piece of onion and place it in your mouth where you're experiencing the pain. Leave it there for about a minute or two and remove. You can repeat this application a few times a day.
Conclusion: Despite having a sensitive smile, having an effective sensitive teeth home remedy will ensure that you're able to live pain-free and enjoy the foods and drinks that you like. Be sure to take care of your teeth and avoid over-brushing them, using harsh whitening treatments or consuming a diet that is rich in acidic and sugary foods. There are also many over-the-counter products you can buy from any drugstore such as sensitive teeth toothpaste and mouth rinses specifically to those who have worn enamel.