San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA
Sensitive teeth are a common complaint from many patients that come to our office. Tooth sensitivity happens when the dental enamel begins to wear thin, or as the gums slowly pull away from the base of the teeth (a process known as gum erosion). Then, temperature changes in the mouth affect the tooth’s nerve, causing that zing of tooth pain when you sip your hot coffee, or an ice-cold drink, or eat sweets. There are products on the market that promise to prevent tooth sensitivity, but Bay Area dentists at Glen Park Dental have six ways to help you deal with your sensitive teeth. If all else fails, be sure to schedule an appointment at our office to make sure nothing more serious is going on with your dental health.
- Use a sensitivity reducing toothpaste
There are many different brands of toothpastes out there that claim to help curb tooth sensitivity, but the only FDA-approved ingredient that is proven to work is potassium nitrate. Be sure that any toothpaste you select for your sensitive teeth contains 5% of this ingredient. The effectiveness of toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth depends on regular usage. So, you can’t skip around using different kinds of toothpaste if you actually want it to work. And, it may take a few weeks before you start noticing a difference.
- Brush with the right kind of toothbrush
Does the type of toothbrush you use really matter? Yes! If you have sensitive teeth, it is best to choose a soft-bristled toothbrush or one that is designed for sensitive teeth (which is even softer than the soft-bristled kind). Save the medium or hard toothbrush for scrubbing your tennis shoes or the tile grout in your bathroom! These hard-bristled toothbrushes are too abrasive and can make tooth sensitivity even worse.
- Maintain good oral hygiene
It may be uncomfortable to brush your teeth, floss, or even get dental cleanings due to your tooth sensitivity. But, as tempting as it may be to forgo these important things, but doing that will only make matters worse. In fact, the better you care for your teeth at home, the less plaque buildup you will have that will need to be removed by the dental hygienist. Also, if you have sensitive spots on your teeth, let your dentist and dental care team know that they can take special care and attention when working on those areas during your cleanings or other treatments.
- Make sure you don’t have bruxism
Bruxism involves grinding and clenching your teeth, usually at night. Most people who have bruxism don’t even know that they have it. But, it could cause sensitive teeth, or even damage your teeth to the point of it resulting in fractures or cracks. If you think that you might be grinding your teeth, or are not sure, ask your dentist for an evaluation. A custom-made mouthguard can be provided for you to wear at night to protect your teeth from further damage caused by bruxism.
- Avoiding using teeth whitening toothpastes
Everyone wants white teeth, we get it, but if you have sensitive teeth, avoid using teeth whitening products unless your dentist recommends otherwise. While an occasional teeth whitening treatment at your dentist’s office may be fine, everyday use of over-the-counter teeth whitening products may invoke even more sensitivity.
- Avoid acidic foods and beverages
You probably don’t want to hear it, but eating foods and drinking beverages that are acidic can make your tooth sensitivity worse. Think along the lines of citrus fruits, marinara sauce, wine, coffee, soda, and sports drinks. While there can be nutritional benefits to consuming certain highly acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, in moderation, talk to your dentist about ways to do so without it harming your teeth. The idea is that you don’t allow the acids to linger in your mouth after you’ve consumed them. So, it’s best to rinse out your mouth with water afterward or brush your teeth between meals and snacks.
If you would like to learn more about oral health care or to schedule a consultation, just call Glen Park Dental at (415) 585-1500. We provide complete oral care to patients in Marin, Oakland, and San Francisco.