How to Prevent and Treat Tooth Sensitivity

woman eating ice cream with tooth sensitivity

Do you experience a sharp pain in your teeth when consuming hot or cold food and drinks? This could be a sign of tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that affects many people worldwide. However, the good news is that tooth sensitivity can be prevented and treated. In this article, we will explore the causes of tooth sensitivity, prevention methods, treatment options, and home remedies.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is a dental condition characterized by discomfort or pain in the teeth when exposed to certain stimuli, such as hot or cold temperatures, sweet or acidic foods and drinks, and even cold air. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the tooth’s enamel wears away, exposing the underlying layer called dentin. Dentin contains small tubules that connect to the tooth’s nerve endings. When these tubules are exposed, they can cause sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic food and drinks. The following are the common causes of tooth sensitivity:

  • Enamel erosion due to acidic foods and drinks, tooth decay, and brushing too hard
  • Gum recession due to age, gum disease, and teeth grinding
  • Teeth grinding that wears down the tooth enamel
  • Tooth decay that exposes the tooth’s inner layers
  • Acidic foods and drinks that wear away the enamel
  • Age, where the enamel naturally wears away over time
  • Other factors such as tooth whitening treatments, gum disease, and cracked teeth.

Prevention of Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity can be prevented by taking the following measures:

Practice good oral hygiene: 

Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily to remove plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums. This decreases the risk of tooth decay, which can lead to tooth sensitivity. 

Use a desensitizing toothpaste: 

Desensitizing toothpastes contain ingredients such as potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride that can help to reduce tooth sensitivity. They work by clogging the dentin tubules and reducing pain. 

Watch your diet: 

Limit your intake of acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits, carbonated beverages, and wine, as they can erode the enamel on your teeth and cause tooth sensitivity. Increase your consumption of calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, which can help to strengthen your teeth.

Don’t brush too hard: 

Brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard bristled toothbrush can damage the enamel and cause it to erode. It can also increase the risk of tooth decay. Both enamel erosion and tooth decay can lead to tooth sensitivity. 

Wear a mouthguard: 

If you grind your teeth at night, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and prevent enamel erosion.

Visit your dentist regularly: 

Regular dental checkups can help identify dental problems early and prevent tooth sensitivity. Your dentist can also provide you with additional tips to manage your oral health and tooth sensitivity. 

Use fluoride: 

Fluoride can help strengthen tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity. Use fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash, or ask your dentist about professional fluoride treatments.

By following these preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of developing tooth sensitivity and maintain good oral health.

Treatment of Tooth Sensitivity

In some cases, tooth sensitivity can be treated through preventative measures or by using the same techniques. For example, using a desensitizing toothpaste or fluoride treatments can both prevent and treat existing tooth sensitivity. However, there are other options that can be used to treat tooth sensitivity when preventative measures are no longer working. The following are the treatment options for tooth sensitivity:

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding, also known as composite bonding or cosmetic bonding,  involves the application of a tooth-colored resin to the affected area to protect the exposed tooth root.

Dental Sealants

Sealants are thin plastic coatings that protect the tooth enamel from decay and sensitivity. They can be applied to the surface of the tooth in order to “seal” out harmful bacteria that can cause tooth decay. 

Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy that involves removing the infected pulp and filling the root canal with a special material. Root canal therapy may be required if the cause of your tooth sensitivity is infected tooth pulp. This means that decay-causing bacteria have eroded through the enamel and dentin to reach the inside of the tooth. 

Gum Grafting

Gum grafts involve taking gum tissue from another part of the mouth and attaching it to the exposed root surface. This option may be used in cases where your tooth sensitivity is caused by exposed tooth roots from gum recession. 

Home Remedies for Tooth Sensitivity

Some home remedies may provide temporary relief for tooth sensitivity, but they are not a substitute for professional dental care. Home remedies can be a helpful complement to dental treatment, but they cannot address the underlying cause of tooth sensitivity. Here are a few home remedies that may help reduce tooth sensitivity:

  • Saltwater rinse: Gargling with warm saltwater can help reduce inflammation and sensitivity in the teeth and gums.
  • Oil pulling: Swishing coconut oil or sesame oil in the mouth for 15-20 minutes can help reduce bacteria in the mouth and promote oral health.
  • Clove oil: Applying clove oil directly to the affected tooth can help numb the area and reduce pain.
  • Green tea: Drinking green tea can help reduce inflammation and promote oral health.
  • Honey and warm water: Mix a teaspoon of honey with warm water and use it as a mouthwash to soothe sensitive teeth.

While these remedies may provide temporary relief, they are not a substitute for proper dental care. If you experience tooth sensitivity, it’s important to visit your dentist for an evaluation and treatment. Your dentist can identify the underlying cause of the sensitivity and recommend appropriate treatment to address it.

In Conclusion

Tooth sensitivity can be prevented and treated through proper oral hygiene, regular dental check-ups, diet modification, use of desensitizing toothpaste, and fluoride treatment. If you experience tooth sensitivity, it is essential to seek dental care to identify and treat the underlying cause. Home remedies such as saltwater rinse, oil pulling, garlic, cloves, green tea, aloe vera, and honey can also help relieve tooth sensitivity. Remember to maintain proper dental hygiene to prevent tooth sensitivity and promote overall

Dr. Sisko

Dr. Gerald Sisko graduated from Ohio State University College of Dentistry in 1987. He is an active member of the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, and the Akron Dental Society where he is currently holding a council position. He has had the honor and distinction of being awarded “TOP DENTIST” in Akron and Cleveland as well as Northeast Ohio for the last several consecutive years.


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