Tooth sensitivity can be a deeply frustrating and painful condition that makes it difficult to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. A hot cup of coffee in the morning or a scoop of ice cream on a summer day suddenly become triggers for tooth sensitivity and pain. Luckily, there are treatments that offer people with sensitive teeth the help they need.
According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, one in eight adults in America have sensitive teeth. Of the people who suffer from tooth sensitivity, the condition was most common in women, young adults, people with receding gums, and people who use at-home whitening strips.
Sensitive Teeth Symptoms
- Tooth pain
- Thinning enamel
- Spots on your teeth
- Transparent or damaged teeth
The symptoms of sensitive teeth can range from mild irritation to intense dental pain. This pain most often occurs with sudden changes in temperature or acidity. You may experience tooth sensitivity when you drink cold beverages, eat hot foods, or breathe in too quickly.
Mild or sporadic tooth sensitivity isn’t usually a cause for alarm. However, you should talk to your dentist about it if it becomes worse or more frequent. If you have extremely sensitive teeth or the problem has grown worse over time, talk to your dentist about your treatment options as soon as possible.
Sensitive Teeth Causes
Several factors can contribute to tooth sensitivity, including:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Tooth decay
- Weak or damaged enamel
- Aggressive brushing habits
- Using “firm” bristle toothbrushes
- Consuming too many acidic foods and beverages (lemons, soda, citrus, tomatoes, coffee, wine, etc.)
All of these habits and factors contribute to thin or weakened enamel. This leads to the nerve-filled pulp of your tooth being exposed to stimuli like temperature change and acidity. When these stimuli cause pain that interferes with your ability to eat, drink, breath, or speak normally, it’s time to talk to your dentist about sensitive teeth pain relief.
Fluoride Treatment for Sensitive Teeth
When you have sensitive teeth, help may come in the form of fluoride treatments. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that protects and strengthens the enamel in your teeth.
Everything we eat and drink eats away at the minerals in our teeth. This is especially true for acidic and sugary foods and beverages, contributing to tooth decay and demineralization. Over time, as the enamel in your teeth wears down, it exposes nerves and causes tooth sensitivity.
To combat tooth sensitivity, we have to rebuild and protect your tooth’s enamel. Fluoride reverses the demineralization process and strengthens your enamel. You can increase your fluoride intake naturally, and/or your dentist can help with regular fluoride treatments.
Sources of Fluoride
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. By increasing your consumption of fluoride-rich foods like potatoes, grapes, shrimp, and fish, you can help strengthen your teeth.
Most cities treat their drinking water with fluoride to help improve public dental health, so drinking more water can also improve your fluoride levels. If you live in a rural area or use well water, you may not be getting the appropriate amount of fluoride for your teeth. If that’s the case, you can also use specially formulated fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes.
If you are still experiencing tooth sensitivity, consider in-office fluoride treatments from your dentist.
In-Office Fluoride Treatments
Professional-grade fluoride comes in several mediums, such as gel, foam, varnish, or mouthwash. Your dentist will apply this highly concentrated fluoride to your teeth with trays, a swab, or a brush.
Application only takes a moment. After application, you will need to sit and let the treatment absorb into your teeth. The entire process usually takes about thirty minutes. Most dentists will allow you to leave the office right after application. You just have to be sure that you don’t eat or drink anything for the next half hour until the fluoride has completely been absorbed.
How Often Should I Get Fluoride Treatments?
How often you receive supplementary fluoride treatments to reduce your tooth sensitivity will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the condition of your teeth.
Generally speaking, your dentist will recommend that you receive fluoride treatments every three, six, or twelve months.
While the fluoride applied to your teeth during treatment is perfectly safe, applying it too often can be harmful to your teeth and your overall oral health. So, unless your dentist suggests otherwise, you likely won’t have treatments more than four times a year.
Do I Need Tooth Sensitivity Treatment?
There is no one set plan of treatment for tooth sensitivity. Whether or not your dentist recommends fluoride treatments for your tooth pain will depend on the cause and severity of your symptoms.
Generally speaking, patients who struggle with frequent cavities, have consistent tooth pain, or have weakened tooth enamel are good candidates for fluoride treatments.
We also recommend fluoride treatments for all of our pediatric patients during their annual cleanings.
How To Prevent Sensitive Teeth
Along with fluoride treatments, you should consider making certain changes to your dental care routine. There are several small life changes you can make to help reduce the symptoms of tooth sensitivity:
- Use a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth
- Make sure that your toothpaste contains fluoride (look for toothpaste that is approved by the American Dental Association)
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Avoid acidic foods and beverages
- Stop whitening your teeth at home–talk to your dentist about your professional whitening options for sensitive teeth
- Visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and check-up
When you put these suggestions into place alongside regular fluoride treatments, you should see a decrease in sensitivity symptoms.
Need Sensitive Teeth Help in Central Arkansas?
If you have sensitive teeth and need help now, contact Arkansas Family Dental to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists today.
You can also download this helpful infographic on the importance of proper oral hygiene and how to improve your oral health! The first step to reducing tooth sensitivity is to improve your overall oral health!