Sensitive Teeth and the Toothpastes That Love Them … Just the Way They Are

Sensitive Teeth and the Toothpastes That Love Them

Feeling like your sensitive teeth are acting like a bunch of drama queens? Well, don’t be too hard on them. The truth is, tooth sensitivity is a relatively common condition. According to a survey of US dental offices, as many as 1/8 of adults suffer from sensitive teeth. Explore some of the reasons why your teeth may have become sensitive, as well as the science behind the toothpaste for those delicate choppers.

Why Are My Teeth so Thin-Skinned?

The answer to this question isn’t about skin, of course, so much as enamel. If your tooth enamel (the protective covering for your teeth) is damaged or eroded, the tiny nerve endings of the inner layer (dentin) will be exposed to harmful stimuli, causing irritation and hypersensitivity. There are lots of different reasons why your teeth may become more sensitive over time:

  • Bruxism (grinding your teeth at night)

  • Natural gum recession (generally effects people over 40) exposing the surface of your tooth’s root

  • Gum disease

  • Brushing your teeth too hard

  • Leaky or worn fillings

  • Using a toothbrush with firm bristles

  • Tooth decay

  • Cracked or broken teeth

  • Consuming too many acidic foods and drinks

oranges and orange juice

Are My Sensitive Teeth Crying...for Help?

So, is tooth sensitivity something to be concerned about, or just a little bit annoying? If you experience tooth sensitivity for more than three or four days – or your tooth reacts badly to hot/cold food – it may be time to seek a diagnostic evaluation from a trusted dentist. After your dentist establishes the reason for your tooth sensitivity, they’ll begin to treat the underlying cause. There are lots of potential treatments, including:

  • Fluoride gel treatments, aimed at strengthening enamel and reducing sensations that irritate the root.

  • Fillings, crowns, inlays, desensitizing agents, and fluoride varnishes, aimed at repairing tooth decay or covering up areas which have been exposed by gum recession.

  • Gum graft, aimed at replacing recessed gum tissue.

Sympathetic Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

Depending on the cause of your tooth sensitivity, your dentist may recommend you try desensitizing toothpaste. Although it can’t cure your sensitivity, desensitizing toothpaste is a useful means of alleviating the discomfort caused by your teeth and reducing the chances of future occurrences. But how does it work?

Sensitive teeth toothpaste contains compounds which prevent irritants from stimulating the nerves inside your tooth. The most important ingredient is potassium nitrate, which blocks the sensitive nerves in your dentin from sending discomfort-triggering signals to your brain. This protects your dentin and stops you from experiencing pain when you eat or drink. Fluoride is another key element. Although it doesn’t block pain, it can strengthen tooth enamel and make your teeth more resistant to decay, thereby heading off future tooth sensitivity.

Does Desensitizing Toothpaste Really Work?

To see real effects, you’ll need to use a desensitizing toothpaste on a regular basis for about a month. It’s always worth remembering that the best way to avoid sensitive teeth is to follow a proper oral hygiene regime. This means brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled brush, flossing every day, and visiting your dentist for regular check-ups. So while there’s no real “toughing up” your sensitive teeth, there is a way to baby them, and some pretty understanding toothpaste out there as well.

Have you got a desensitizing toothpaste that you rely on? Why not let us know in the comments section!

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