While “”sensitive” might be the new “cool,” it’s not always a good adjective when it comes to describing teeth.

Indeed, if you have sensitive teeth, you know all too well the discomfort and pain associated with eating hot and cold foods. It’s not just that popsicles are harder to eat — it’s that nearly any hot, cold, acidic, or sweet food can greatly irritate your teeth and gums.

Why Are Your Teeth Sensitive?

Having sensitive teeth does not necessarily correlate to having poor dental hygiene practices. In fact, anyone can be susceptible to sensitive teeth.

In a healthy tooth, a layer of enamel (or bone) protects a deeper layer called dentin. Dentin is much softer than enamel, and it is also connected to nerve endings in the mouth. So, for individuals with sensitive teeth, the enamel layer is compromised and thus leaves the dentin exposed and painful. This phenomenon can also occur when gums start to recede and thus leave the dentin unprotected.

A number of dental-related issues can reduce enamel and expose the dentin, such as:

  • Cavities
  • Chips
  • Gum disease and recession
  • Root erosion
  • Enamel erosion

Other factors that contribute to sensitive teeth include:

  • Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Gum recession as a result of periodontal disease
  • Gingivitis
  • Cracked teeth that become filled with plaque and bacteria — this causes the tooth pulp to become inflamed and thus sensitive.
  • Teeth grinding in the night
  • Plaque buildup between teeth
  • Acidic foods such as coffee and lemons
  • Certain dental procedures such as teeth whitening or restoration

What Can You Do About Sensitive Teeth?

While there’s no miracle dental treatment for sensitive teeth, there are a few proven treatments that can help to lessen the severity of the sensitivity.

The next time you visit the dentist for a dental check-up, be sure to ask about at-home or in-office sensitive tooth treatment. Your dentist should be able to speak to this tips and give you suggestions for your particular situation.

1. Use The Right Toothpaste

Toothpaste brands, such as Sensodyne, market themselves a toothpastes for sensitive teeth. While no toothpaste will be a magical fix, research shows that these fluoridated toothpastes do help to strengthen enamel.

Whichever brand you use, try to avoid tartar-control toothpaste as it can be much harsher on the teeth.

2. Use A Soft-Bristled Toothbrush

Whether you use an electric or regular toothbrush, just be sure that you have a soft-bristled head. As we mentioned, hard-bristled and even medium-bristled toothbrush heads can wear down the enamel surface of teeth.

3. Avoid Highly Acidic Foods

We won’t tell you to forgo your morning coffee, but we will say that foods and beverages with high acidity (like coffee) can be the antagonist when it comes to sensitive teeth.

Avoid eating lemons, grapefruits or other acidic fruits directly and instead mix lemon juice into a tea or water if you want to consume it.

We think of lemons and coffee immediately, but there’s actually a high degree of acid in meat, dairy, grains, legumes, and nuts. Since these foods probably comprise the bulk of your diet, it’s also not feasible to eliminate completely. Instead, consider these substitutes:

  • Plant protein such as chlorella and spirulina rather than fatty meats
  • Organic and free-range animal products if you must consume meat
  • Nut milks such as almond and coconut
  • Non-glutenous grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa.

In general, when you eat foods with high acidity, make sure to balance your meal by also consuming alkalizing foods.

4. Use Fluoride Mouthwash

Some mouthwash can be harmful for those with tooth sensitivity, especially if there’s a high concentration of alcohol. Fluoride mouthwash, on the other hand, can help to bolster tooth enamel, reduce gum inflammation, and generally build stronger teeth.

As a result, fluoride mouthwash can desensitize teeth.

5. Seek Dental Treatment

In addition to at-home treatments, your dental office can also perform treatment to help reduce tooth sensitivity. These dental treatments include:

  • Crowns, bonds, or inlays
  • Fluoride gels
  • Gum grafts

If you’re interested in medical treatment for sensitive teeth, contact First Hill Dental Center today.

First Hill Dental Center in Seattle

As a Seattle dentist office, First Hill Dental Center offers general, cosmetic, emergency dentistry, and more dental services. We can also work with you to mitigate your tooth sensitivity.

Contact First Hill Dental Center in Seattle today to schedule an appointment today!