Handle with Care: Preventing and Treating Sensitive Teeth

It can be hard to smile about a delicious ice cream or steaming cup of hot cocoa when you have sensitive teeth. This common problem also may make it difficult to maintain proper oral hygiene, as flossing and brushing sensitive teeth can be a painful experience. Fortunately, you don’t have to accept living with touchy teeth.  

What causes sensitive teeth?

There are many potential reasons for tooth sensitivity.  Gum disease is a frequent cause, so taking good care of your teeth and gums is extremely important for prevention and treatment. Your oral healthcare provider can help you determine other underlying causes of pain, including worn tooth enamel, cavities, fractured teeth, and fillings that need to be replaced.

You also may be doing things in your daily life that cause or aggravate sensitive teeth. Consider the following:

  • Think twice before you crunch on ice, as that can damage the enamel on your teeth or cause your teeth to crack.
  • If you are an overzealous brusher or flosser, you may be doing more harm than good to your gums. Try using a soft bristled toothbrush and a gentler approach to oral hygiene.
  • If you plan to whiten your teeth, make sure you first discuss with your oral healthcare provider and follow directions carefully.

Treating sensitive teeth

Once you determine the cause of your tooth sensitivity, you can work with your oral healthcare provider on developing a treatment plan, which may include something as simple as desensitizing toothpaste or fluoride mouthwash and/or treatment. If you grind your teeth, you may want to consider a mouth guard to protect the tooth enamel.

In other instances, dental fillings, bonding or crowns may be necessary to restore decayed or damaged teeth. If your tooth cannot be restored, a dental implant may be the best solution to ensure that the replacement tooth is fully supported. Dental implants help to maintain the integrity of both your jaw and your surrounding teeth, assisting in the prevention of further oral health problems.  

While sensitive teeth can be a real pain, you don’t have to settle for a life without hot fudge sundaes or steaming café lattes. Talk to your oral healthcare provider about the best treatment plan to relieve and alleviate sensitive teeth.