According to the Academy of General Dentistry, at least 40 million adults in the U.S. are affected by sensitive teeth.1 Often temporary, the pain can come on suddenly and feel extremely sharp. Tooth sensitivity is often triggered by sudden coldness, such as from a frozen snack in the summer. If you or your child sees an orthodontist and has braces, sensitivity isn’t uncommon. Fortunately, there are ways to treat and prevent it.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Everyone is at risk for tooth sensitivity, with causes such as:
• Eroded or cracked enamel: This can expose softer dentin, so any cold reaches the underlying nerves more easily.
• Gum recession: In people with receding gums, the dentin can become exposed.
• Gingivitis: Teeth roots can become exposed when gum tissue is sore and inflamed over a long period of time.
• Cracked teeth: When cracks fill with plaque and bacteria, the pulp can become inflamed and infected.
• Dental procedures: Cavity fillings, teeth-whitening treatments, and orthodontic procedures can trigger tooth sensitivity.
How to Prevent It
You can avoid teeth sensitivity in some cases. For example, if your child has received treatment at a family orthodontics clinic, maintaining good oral hygiene can prevent or reduce sensitivity. In addition to keeping teeth clean, using a softer-bristle toothbrush can prevent irritation. Avoiding acidic foods and beverages, using a mouthguard at night (if you grind your teeth), and visiting your dentist regularly are good preventative measures too.
How to Treat It
Toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help. There are many over-the-counter brands, and your dentist can recommend one, but you may have to try several to find one that works. The best desensitizing toothpaste is fluoridated, not a tartar-control product.
Silver diamine fluoride was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014. It is a topical treatment that some studies have found to effectively reduce pain. Silver diamine can harden the tooth surface and protect exposed dentin. The compound is applied twice a year by a dental practitioner.
In addition to desensitizing toothpaste, there are many home remedies for sensitive teeth, such as:
• Saltwater rinse: Salt helps reduce inflammation and is an antiseptic. Gargle and rinse with lukewarm salt water twice a day to reduce sensitivity triggered by frozen summer treats.
• Honey/warm water: Honey can help reduce pain as well as inflammation. Just mix a spoonful of it with warm water and rinse.
• Turmeric: Massaging ground turmeric on teeth can alleviate inflammation and pain.
• Capsaicin: The spicy agent in chili peppers can reduce pain and inflammation due to burning mouth syndrome.
• Vanilla extract: This can provide pain relief and is often used for teething babies; pour the extract onto a cotton ball and apply it to your gums for several minutes.
Visit Your Orthodontist
Labbe Family Orthodontics provides a range of services, including braces for children and adults, Invisalign, and surgical treatments. We can also help address the causes of your tooth sensitivity. Schedule your appointment online or call 443-603-3448 today to meet with Dr. Stephen Labbe for a complimentary consultation.