Tooth sensitivity is very common and develops slowly over time from common issues like enamel wear and receding gums. Most victims are adults between the ages of 20 and 50, although children suffer from this sensitivity as well. Normally, it starts when the soft, inner section of your tooth, which is also known as dentine, is exposed. The dentine is found under the gums and enamel.
There are thousands of tiny channels running through the dentine towards the center of your tooth. When the dentine gets exposed, the nerves inside the tooth get stimulated by external triggers, leading to short, sharp sensations known as tooth sensitivity.
Some Causes of Tooth Sensitivity in Children
If tooth sensitivity is difficult for you, imagine what your child must be going through. Sometimes it’s hard to determine whether the pain in your child’s mouth is caused by tooth sensitivity or something else. If the child complains of pain or tingling teeth while chewing or brushing, the chances are that they have teeth that are sensitive that need to be treated.
There are various reasons why a child might be suffering from tooth sensitivity, and they include:
- New tender teeth- as children lose their baby teeth, the growth of new ones could be a painful process. What really causes the sensitivity is the feeling of food and air coming into contact with the new teeth.
- Cavities- these are very common in children, and the decay leads to teeth sensitivity.
- Bad brushing- although improper brushing doesn’t always lead to tooth sensitivity, children with bad dental care habits tend to brush harshly and, therefore, end up destroying the gums and enamel, which leads to sensitivity. It is for this reason you should teach your children proper dental health care.
- Sinus struggles- surprisingly, children who suffer from sinus problems also have tooth sensitivity, and it is prudent to know the congestion connection.
- A crack attack- children who have misaligned teeth or those with grinding habits tend to get hairline cracks, leading to sensitive teeth when eating and chewing.
- Fillings- if your children have silver amalgam fillings, their teeth might become sensitive due to the filling’s excessive temperature conductivity.
- Knowing that your child is suffering from teeth sensitivity will help you seek a dentist’s services in good time and get the young one treated.
Other factors that cause tooth sensitivity in adults include:
- Gum recession
- Tooth bleaching
- Acid erosion
- Gum disease
- Cracked teeth or fillings
What to do about tooth sensitivity in adults
To avoid any more damage, always brush gently and don’t use abrasive toothpaste. Instead, go for a non-alcoholic mouthwash.
Desensitizing agents- these work by blocking off your dentinal tubules to ensure that nerves don’t get stimulated. They don’t really work well when used as toothpaste. Instead, you should gently rub the gel or paste into the sensitive area using your fingers. Let the toothpaste work its magic without rinsing it out with water or mouthwash. It might take you a couple of weeks to see the desired results.
These kinds of toothpaste can be used indefinitely without harm. However, do not substitute the dentist’s services with desensitizing kinds of toothpaste.Some people have found these to be quite effective at battling tooth sensitivity. However, they tend to be very expensive.
If you find out that sensitive toothpaste doesn’t work out for you, consider using a non-alcohol mouthwash that features a high content of fluoride. Some of these mouthwashes are purely designed for reducing teeth sensitivity. Use the mouthwash twice daily after brushing your teeth. It is recommended to use the mouthwash before going to bed to ensure it doesn’t get rinsed away by anything you might eat or drink.
To use the mouthwash, swirl it between the teeth in a back and forth motion for not less than 30 seconds, and refrain from rinsing your mouth with water afterward.
What a dentist will do about sensitive teeth
Depending on what caused the sensitivity, your dentist will paint special fluoride gels, varnishes, or rinses on your affected teeth. If the above remedies don’t help with the sensitivity, a seal or bonding will be put around the tooth’s neck by your dentist to shield the exposed dentine. If you tend to grind your teeth regularly, consult with your dentist about the possibility of getting a mouth guard to wear while you sleep.
Ways to reduce tooth sensitivity
Take Care of Your Tooth Enamel
The enamel is a protective layer that enables your teeth to withstand any trauma you put them through. Once your enamel is destroyed, nerve endings get exposed, leaving you in pain. Teeth sensitivity is a sign that your enamel is worn out. To prevent damage to the enamel, there is one thing you can do. Do not brush too hard. If you always brush aggressively, the chances are that you will remove more than plaque. Brushing from side-to-side at the gum line will erode your enamel faster. Use a soft-bristled brush. Also, always brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums to ensure your enamel is protected at all times.
If you are using a brittle toothbrush, vigorously scrubbing your teeth, or not brushing for at least two minutes, you are not protecting your sensitive teeth. Hard brushing tends to erode the enamel, thus adding to the teeth sensitivity. If you suffer from gum recession and exposed roots, you might be scrubbing the cementum, which is meant to protect your teeth roots.
Avoid Acidic Food and Drinks
Acidic foods like red wine, soda, fruit juices, sticky candy, oranges, and high-sugar carbs put your tooth enamel under attack. Try to limit these foods and if you have them, brush your teeth 20 minutes afterward. Even if you don’t feel the sensitivity, always be cautious about these foods as it is not possible to reverse enamel loss.
Instead of consuming the acidic foods and drinks, opt for:
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables
- Plain yogurt
These keep your mouth moistened and also help in fighting acid and bacteria that erode your teeth. Drinking green or black tea is also a great alternative. Also, you can chew sugarless gum. If you happen to eat something acidic, do not brush immediately after. Wait for one hour to let your teeth strengthen before scrubbing them.
Put a Stop to Tooth Grinding
If you always grind your teeth whenever you are tense, you could be destroying your enamel, which may introduce a sensitivity problem. Sometimes it is not easy to realize that you are grinding your teeth. Most people tend to grind their teeth while sleeping. If you are unaware of it, unexplained jaw pain and headaches are great clues that it happens.
In case you are a tooth grinder, try using a mouth guard at night before going to bed. You can also alternate your sleeping position. Whenever you notice that you have clenched your teeth during the day, try to relax your jaws by keeping your teeth slightly apart.
Sometimes, it would be great to address your stressors as this might help solve the grinding problem. If this fails to work, your dentist can fix a splint and in severe cases, a dental work might be necessary. This will change your teeth’s position, or you can get a muscle relaxant prescribed.
Ask the Dentist for a Paint Job
If you are benefitting from desensitizing toothpaste, consult with your dentist about painted-on barriers. There are some desensitizing agents like fluoride varnish and plastic resins that your dentist can apply on the sensitive teeth. These wear off over some time. They could take a couple of months to several years, depending on the material used. This means that they will have to be reapplied once they get depleted.
Treat Receding Gums
The root of the tooth is usually covered by gum tissue. However, a gum recession problem that can either be caused by dental disease or hard brushing could leave your roots exposed and with a worn cementum. A dental specialist can restore receding gums with treatments that involve tissue grafts.
However, before the treatment, you need to determine the cause of the receding gums. If it is as a result of hard brushing, you need to change the way you brush your teeth, or you will end up with the same problem again.
Take a Break from Bleaching
Your love for pearly whites could be the cause of your sensitivity problem. The only good thing is that this kind of sensitivity is usually temporary. Discuss with your dentist about how bleaching might be affecting you and whether it is wise to continue with the procedure. It is always wise to take a break and see how that goes.
There are also some home remedies that might help you with the sensitivity. These include:
Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil
This method helps in reducing the number of streptococcus mutans bacteria and reduces sensitivity in your teeth. Since coconut oil is a natural antibacterial agent, it will help get rid of plaque too.
Salt water can help get rid of sensitivity in your teeth fast since it promotes the pH balance in the mouth. In an alkaline environment, bacteria will not be able to survive in your mouth.
There are many other home remedies that can help you deal with this kind of sensitivity and might be worth trying. Do not suffer when you might be having the remedy in your kitchen.