Simple tactics you can use to relieve your pain
If you suffer from the continual pain and discomfort of sensitive teeth, you’ll know how debilitating the condition can be.
It’s maddening how simple some of the triggers for tooth sensitivity can be. Hot or cold foods and drinks, sugary treats, and even breathing in cold air are enough to set off a painful episode.
The good news is that there are a few techniques you can use – both at home and with help from Renton Dental – that can reduce your tooth sensitivity and prevent your pain from recurring.
We asked Renton Dental’s principal Dentist, Dr Ian Renton, to share his top tips on treating tooth sensitivity.
1) Brush with a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth
It might sound obvious, but Dr Renton suggests that a good first step is using a toothpaste that’s specially designed to help people with sensitive teeth. The active ingredient works to seal the dentine and reduce your sensitivity.
While sensitive teeth toothpastes don’t work for everyone, they’re usually worth trying first, because they’re relatively cheap and you can use them yourself at home. Just remember to give the toothpaste a chance to make a difference. Unlike earlier desensitising toothpastes that contain potassium nitrate, the newer pastes made by Colgate and Sensodyne act quickly.
“Rubbing the paste around the sensitive area like a cream will often improve your sensitivity within a few minutes,” says Dr Renton.
2) Rethink your brushing technique
To avoid damaging your tooth enamel with your regular brushing, make sure you use only a soft bristled toothbrush and gently polish your teeth for the recommended two minutes.
This point is even more important if you have receding gums, because if you scrub away at your exposed tooth roots, you could easily damage the softer cementum which is meant to protect this area.
3) Make changes to your diet
Research has shown that the biggest contributing factor to tooth root sensitivity is the acidity in your mouth.
Drinks like fruit juice, soft drink, sports drinks, and wine, along with foods such as citrus fruits, processed foods, and sugary sweets, are all high in acid. When consumed frequently they will attack your tooth enamel and dentine, causing teeth sensitivity over time.
You can either avoid acidic food and drink altogether, or try to minimise their effect by balancing your mouth’s pH after you’ve eaten. Rinse your mouth with water, or chew on gum to stimulate saliva production.
“Make sure you wait at least 1 hour after consuming acidic food and drink before you brush your teeth,” Ian Renton says. “That’s because the acid softens the surface of your teeth, so brushing too soon afterwards will damage your enamel and dentine even further.”
4) Talk to Renton Dental about extra teeth defences
If you’ve trialled a toothpaste for sensitive teeth and it’s not working for you, you should seek professional attention at Renton Dental to confirm you don’t have a more serious problem.
We may recommend professionally applied desensitising agents which may be more effective. For example, we can use a fluoride treatment to help re-mineralise your tooth dentine and act as a shield against irritation.
Alternatively, we can apply sealants to your teeth to cover up any exposed tooth roots and relieve your pain. In more extreme cases, we may recommend a crown to cover and defend your tooth and its sensitive nerves.
5) Seek help for your tooth grinding
Grinding your teeth, either because of stress or when you’re asleep, can wear away your tooth enamel and bring on sensitivity. If you’ve noticed you have unexplained jaw pain or sudden headaches, these could be signs that you’re grinding your teeth at night.
If we determine that night-time teeth grinding is a factor in your teeth sensitivity, Renton Dental can supply a specialist night guard (or splint) for you to wear while you sleep. And if you notice yourself clenching or grinding your teeth during the day, make a mental note to relax, unclench your jaw, and give your teeth a break.
6) Get treatment for your receding gums
If your gum tissue starts to recede – perhaps because of gum disease or due to poor brushing technique – your teeth’s roots may be exposed. As we’ve seen, this is a sure-fire way to encourage tooth sensitivity.
If this is the case for you, we may be able to refer you for restoration of your receding gums with tissue grafts. But before we do so, it’s important to address the underlying reason for your gum recession.
“If your receding gums are caused by hard brushing, we will help you improve your brushing technique before we start rebuilding gum tissue,” Dr Renton says. “Otherwise, you’ll end up brushing through your restored gums and starting your sensitivity all over again.”
Similarly, if you’re suffering from gum disease, we’ll first look to treat your condition before we restore your gum tissue.
7) Replacing a worn filling, or having Root Canal Treatment
If all else fails and your tooth’s nerve is still causing you persistent pain, we may suggest replacing the old filling in your tooth. Over time, fillings or the edges around them can break down, in which case having a filling replaced can sometimes solve the problem.
In cases of stubborn pain which cannot be resolved, having root canal treatment to remove the troublesome nerve tissue can relieve your discomfort.
Root canal therapy itself usually won’t cause you much pain, and can mean you’ll no longer have to worry about sensitivity from a particular problem tooth. Read more about root canal therapy here.
Dr Renton says, “Remember that if the tooth sensitivity doesn’t improve, it may mean that you have a cavity or cracked tooth. Delaying investigation may mean much more serious treatment will be needed.”
To discover more solutions to your tooth sensitivity problem, contact the Renton Dental team by filling out the form here or calling us on 07 3369 2340.