How to prevent and treat sensitive teeth: 8 tips for good oral health

Sensitive teeth can cause a lot of discomfort. You should pick the right toothbrush and avoid acidic foods to treat sensitive teeth.
Woman with sensitive teeth
Treat sensitive teeth by using the right toothbrush! Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 9 Feb 2024, 19:30 pm IST
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You may not give much thought to your teeth on a daily basis. Out of habit, you brush your teeth in the morning and before sleeping. But when your teeth hurt while brushing or eating or having a chilled drink, that’s when you realise you need to focus more on oral health. If you have sensitive teeth, simple activities like eating a cup of ice cream can cause temporary but sharp pain in your teeth. Read on to know how to treat sensitive teeth.

What is tooth sensitivity?

People end up with sensitive teeth when the protective enamel on the tooth’s surface wears down, exposing the underlying dentin, says dental surgeon and prosthodontist Dr Sacheev Nanda. Some of the symptoms are pain or discomfort when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks, as well as during brushing or flossing.

Woman with sensitive teeth
People with sensitive teeth will have trouble having hot or cold foods. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Are sensitive teeth more common among older adults?

Sensitive teeth can affect people of all ages, but the problem tends to be more common in older adults. As we age, tooth enamel may naturally wear down, increasing the likelihood of sensitivity, shares the expert. However, various factors can contribute to sensitivity at any age.

Here are some factors:

  • Gradual wear of enamel exposes the dentin, leading to sensitivity.
  • Receding gums can expose the tooth roots, which are not protected by enamel, making them sensitive.
  • Tooth decay can expose nerves, causing sensitivity.
  • Grinding or clenching teeth can wear down enamel.
  • Acidic foods and drinks
  • Harsh dental products
  • Certain dental treatments, such as tooth whitening, may cause temporary sensitivity.

What are the ways to treat sensitive teeth?

Here are some ways to help prevent and treat sensitive teeth:

1. Choose the right toothpaste

Use toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth, which contains compounds to reduce sensitivity over time, says Dr Nanda. You can use high-fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash for at-home use, with some available over the counter. But make sure you follow your dentist’s guidelines on the frequency of use.

2. Fluoride treatments

You can go for professional fluoride applications at a dentist’s office. They can strengthen tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity. Dentists frequently administer high-concentration fluoride gels, foams, or varnishes during dental visits for a swift and efficient delivery of a concentrated fluoride dose to the teeth.

3. Soft-bristle toothbrush

You may feel like a soft-bristle toothbrush won’t clean your teeth properly, but that’s not true. These toothbrushes are gentler on gums and tooth enamel, preventing gum recession and enamel erosion caused by excessive pressure. The softer bristles also reduce the likelihood of damage to delicate gum tissue.

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4. Avoid acidic foods and drinks

Limit consumption of acidic substances that can contribute to enamel erosion. Some of the foods with high acidic content are high sodium processed foods, and carbonated drinks, including sodas.

Woman with sensitivity in teeth
Avoid eating certain foods if you have sensitive teeth. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Mouthguard for bruxism

Bruxism is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth while you are sleeping or do it unconsciously when you are awake. If you grind your teeth, a custom-fitted mouthguard can prevent enamel wear. Also, be conscious of teeth clenching habits, especially during stressful times.

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6. Proper dental hygiene

Most of the dental problems pop up due to poor oral habits. So, maintain regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups to prevent cavities and gum issues.

7. Saltwater rinse

Rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution, which can be easily prepared at home using salt and warm water. It can help reduce inflammation and sensitivity, says the expert.

8. Oil pulling

Some people find relief from teeth sensitivity through oil pulling. Swishing a small amount of coconut or sesame oil in the mouth for about 15 to 20 minutes can help.

But it is essential to consult with a dentist for a proper diagnosis and personalised treatment plan based on the specific cause of your sensitivity.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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