Dental hypersensitivity, also known as sensitive teeth, happens because of receding gums and/or because the enamel protecting the teeth has somehow become thinner. Brushing too hard can push back the gums and expose the roots of teeth, while acidic food and drinks, such as wine, can weaken the structure of the enamel and cause sensitivity. You know your teeth are sensitive when it’s painful to consume hot or cold foods and beverages.
In addition to certain food, did you know that breathing in the cold air can also trigger sensitivity? If you're in Chicago, where the winter temperature can reach -20 or lower, tooth sensitivity can be worsened by chilly air. Here are some ways for you to enjoy holiday treats and breathe in the winter air without worrying about painful teeth.
Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
There are numerous types of toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth. Some of them are also formulated to whiten teeth and prevent cavities. This kind of toothpaste works to coat your enamel and lessen the sensitivity that your nerves feel. Look for American Dental Association (ADA) approved toothpaste brands with fluoride, potassium nitrate, or strontium chloride. Your dental care provider can also use professional strength toothpaste for additional relief and protection from hypersensitivity.
Use a Fluoride Treatment
Fluoride treatments in toothpaste or mouth rinse can prevent sensitivity. Fluoride reinforces the enamel to resist food acid and it also prevents tooth decay. Fluoride intake is important for children, as their permanent teeth erupt, but adults can still use fluoride treatments for overall oral health. While there are over-the-counter fluoride treatments available, their concentrations are lower than professional treatments provided by dentists. Whichever option you choose, fluoride treatments can still benefit you even as an adult.
Treat Receding Gums
If your gums are receding from aggressive brushing or gum disease, visit your dentist to discuss treatment options. Make sure to maintain good oral hygiene. Your periodontist may recommend deep cleaning or, in worst cases, surgery (gingivoplasty) to correct your gums. Treating receded gums can protect your roots and prevent tooth loss.
The recommended number of brushing is two times—first thing in the morning and before bedtime. Brush for two minutes using a soft bristle toothbrush. Avoid brushing immediately after meals. The acids in the food and drink we consume weaken our teeth and brushing right after will only strip the teeth of more minerals, therefore resulting in more sensitivity.
After meals, rinse using water to neutralize the mouth’s pH balance and let saliva break down the acids and sugars first. If you must brush, wait at least 30 minutes after eating to do so. Learn more about how to avoid over-brushing here!
Avoid Acidic and Sugary Food and Drinks
Make conscious choices about your diet to prevent cavity formation and enamel breakdown. Avoid eating sugary food like candy and drinking carbonated drinks, such as sodas. Wine is highly acidic, but if you pair cheese with it, the cheese's enzymes help break down the acids. Choose food high in phosphorus such as fatty fish and tofu, and low-acid fruits like apples and bananas.
Get Your Teeth Checked Out
See your dentist once or twice a year for checkup and cleaning. You may need to visit more often if you are prone to getting frequent cavities or if you have a gum disease. Your dentist can provide you with a combination of solutions if you suffer from sensitive teeth. Dental appointments are crucial for your oral health. Until then, brave the Chicago winter with these tips to reduce sensitive teeth.
We hope these tips help you face Chicago’s chilly winter with a grin! If you struggle with sensitive teeth, it’s very important to see a dentist to find out what’s at the root of your sensitivity problem. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Chicago’s number one dentistry, Water Tower Dental Care, today!