Understand the root of your tooth sensitivity
If you’re one of the estimated one in eight people who suffers from tooth hypersensitivity, it’s important to understand why you feel that shock of pain anytime you eat something very hot or cold. According to Kim Harms, DDS, spokesperson for the American Dental Association, tooth sensitivity is caused by an exposure of nerve endings, due to the erosion of either the enamel on the top of the tooth or the bone and gum tissue below. These tiny, tube-shaped nerve endings lead back to the main nerve of the tooth, the pulp. When your teeth are exposed to one of the many factors that can trigger a wave of sensitivity—like cold foods, acidic drinks, or even wind—it irritates the nerve endings and provokes a jolt of pain in the pulp. Understanding this process can help you figure out which products and techniques might work to lessen or totally eliminate your pain. Work with your dentist to find solutions to pain that’s very severe. Here are the shocking diseases dentists can find first.
Use toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth
The first step in managing tooth pain is to switch from a regular toothpaste to one specifically designed for people with sensitive teeth, at least for a month or two. Hyper-sensitivity toothpastes work by filling up the nerve-ending tubules and blocking them from irritation. Dr. Harms says the best toothpastes for sensitive teeth contain either fluoride, potassium nitrate, or strontium chloride, and are stamped with the American Dental Association’s seal of acceptance. Just as important is what they don’t contain—sodium lauryl sulfate, an ingredient in most toothpastes that makes the formula foamy when you brush, but can also irritate sensitive teeth and gums. Consider Sensodyne Repair and Protect Sensitivity Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth Relief, which desensitizes teeth over time and strengthens acid-softened enamel. Another leading formula is Colgate Sensitive Complete Protection Toothpaste, which uses potassium nitrate to gradually build tolerance for hot, cold, and sugary foods. Both contain fluoride and carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance. According to Dr. Harms, this simple switch completely eliminates the pain for many people with sensitive teeth. If it doesn’t help enough, speak to your dentist about the possibility of using a prescription toothpaste, which contains more fluoride than everyday drugstore brands.