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Everything You Should Know About Your Sensitive Teeth

Close-up of a pretty girl enjoying an ice-cream cone even with sensitive teethSensitive teeth.  Just the mere mention can make you shudder, and anyone familiar with painful sensitive teeth can tell you how much it hurts.  If you’ve started turning down your favorite foods because of sensitive teeth, the first step to making the pain go away (or at least lessening it) is getting all your questions answered about sensitive teeth (if you have any more, just ask).

How do I know if I have sensitive teeth?

Before you assume you have sensitive teeth—and just have to put up with the pain—visit your dentist.  Sometimes what seems like pain from sensitive teeth can really be caused by another problem that needs attention.  Or the underlying reason that causes your sensitive teeth may need treatment to halt the progression, such as a damaged tooth, loss of tooth enamel, receding gums, or teeth grinding.  If teeth grinding is the source of your problem, it’s best to find out early because teeth grinding can cause a host of problems if not treated early.

Why do I have sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth are caused when the protective layer of enamel wears down.  The result is pain in your teeth, especially when you eat acidic, sweet, cold, or hot foods.

How can I make the pain go away?

Don’t brush too hard. Once your dentist has examined you and confirmed you have sensitive teeth, head to the store for a new soft-bristled toothbrush.  Use circular strokes when brushing, and don’t brush your teeth and gums to hard.

Consider using a toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth. Ask your dentist for their recommendation for a sensitivity toothpaste which can help with the pain, but be patient.  It can sometimes take 2-4 weeks to feel the effects of sensitivity toothpaste.  You may also have to try several different kinds of sensitivity toothpastes to find the right toothpaste that works for you.  If you don’t want to keep heading back to the store for a new brand, ask your dentist for recommendations and samples of different brands he or she suggests.

Stay away from anything that makes you hurt. If you find something that makes your teeth hurt, avoid it as much as possible.  Common causes of sensitive teeth pain include acidic foods, sweet foods, hot or cold foods. Keep a food journal if needed, and mark down when your teeth hurt.  Look for patterns that may give you a clue of what foods to avoid.

Look for fluoridated products. Fluoride can be a powerful ally in your fight against painful sensitive teeth because fluoride strengthens the enamel of your teeth.  Ask your dentist for recommendations of fluoridated products that can help, such as mouth rinses. Once tooth enamel wears down, you can’t replace it but you can strengthen what enamel you do have.