How to Reduce Tooth and Gum Sensitivity At Home and When to Visit the Dentist

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Tooth Sensitivity is one of the most vocal concerns amongst dental patients according to Sunstar Gum. Tooth sensitivity causes pain when those affected eat particularly hot or cold food and drinks, or even just from breathing through their mouth. Other causes include pain when biting and chewing and alcohol-based mouthwash. Tooth sensitivity also affects people of all ages, even those with otherwise perfect teeth. According to a recent study by the Journal of Dentistry, 11.5% of adults may be affected by tooth sensitivity and those are people who report it. Many others could be undiagnosed with tooth sensitivity. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity it is best to get checked out by your local dentist in Monmouth.

 

What Makes People More Susceptible To Tooth Sensitivity and what to do about it?

 

You Brush Your Teeth Too Hard

Brushing your teeth with too much force or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can lead to tooth sensitivity over time, as “you can wear down the protective layers of your teeth and expose microscopic hollow tubes or canals that lead to your dental nerves. When these tubes are exposed to extreme temperatures or acidic or sticky foods, tooth sensitivity and discomfort can result” according to Everyday Health. In order to eliminate this common tooth sensitivity consider brushing your teeth with less force and switching to a toothbrush with softer bristles. Unfortunately brushing your teeth too hard can cause irreversible damage to your teeth and cause your teeth to become more sensitive in the future, your best option is to address the problem as soon as possible and take steps to avoid making it any worse.

 

You Eat Acidic Foods Or Consume Hot Or Cold Drinks

As mentioned above eating acidic foods can aggravate tooth sensitivity when your nerves are exposed, if you realise that your teeth are extra sensitive when consuming any of the food items mentioned you should consider limiting your intake of these types of food and drink to avoid discomfort, or at least prepare yourself in advance.

 

You Grind Your Teeth

Tooth enamel is a protective outer coating to your teeth, it protects your teeth against cavities and damage. Tooth enamel is very durable, in fact, it is the strongest substance in your body - stronger than even your bones and teeth themselves! But that doesn't stop tooth enamel from being broken down slowly over time by grinding your teeth. Once the tooth enamel is broken down your teeth are more susceptible to having those small microscopic tubes in your teeth break down, leading to your nerves being exposed meaning they will be very sensitive to temperature changes, acidic foods and hot or cold drinks.   

 

You've Been Using Tooth Whitening Toothpaste

Tooth whitening toothpaste includes chemicals that help make your teeth whiter, but the same chemicals can also make your teeth more sensitive, according to Everyday Health. In order to tick this cause off your list consider buying toothpaste that doesn't mention tooth whitening on the packet.

 

You Use Mouthwash That Contains Alcohol  

Some mouthwashes contain alcohol and other chemicals that can make your teeth more sensitive, if you are finding your mouthwash is causing your teeth to be more sensitive consider switching out to a mouthwash that doesn't include mouthwash. Or just stop using mouthwash and make sure that you brush your teeth properly, but not too hard!

 

You Have Gum Disease

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Inflamed and sore gum tissue may cause sensitivity because of the loss of supporting ligaments, which exposes the root surface that leads directly to the nerve of the tooth.” If you notice that your gums have been more red recently this may be a sign of gingivitis or a more serious gum disease, you should book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will then work with you to come up with an action plan to help combat the gum disease.

 

You Have Too Much Plaque On Your Teeth

Excessive plaque can cause your tooth enamel to wear away, again leading to the microscopic holes on your teeth being exposed; causing your nerves to be more affected by temperature changes and acidic or sticky foods. In order to reduce the risk of this happening ensure that you practice good dental care through regular brushing.

 

You've Recently Had A Dental Procedure

If you have recently had a dental procedure such as a tooth extraction, root canal or placement of a crown you may experience tooth sensitivity for a few hours. This discomfort should disappear within a few hours, if symptoms don't disappear by the next day it could be a sign of a tooth infection and you should make another appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. You should also avoid any of the following:

- Hot or Cold Drinks

- Acidic Food or Drink

- Sticky Food or Drinks

- Alcohol Based Mouthwash 

 

Your Tooth Is Cracked

Chipped or cracked teeth can expose the nerves within, meaning they will be more sensitive to any of the problem food or drink groups that are directly above. This is a dental issue that would be best resolved by a dentist, who can work with you to find the best solution to your problem.

 

Why Do We Have Nerves in Our Teeth In The First Place?

According to New Scientist nerve endings are “responsible for an alert signal that prevents mechanical damage to the teeth, differentiating between hard and soft or hot and cold elements.” Meaning nerves in your teeth are actually there to alert you to something that you are doing that is negatively impacting your teeth, so that you can stop doing it. This is similar to if you put your hand next to a hot stove, the nerves in your hand send pain signals to your brain causing you to move your hand away from the heat source.

 

Common Causes Of Sensitive Gums And What Can Be Done About It

 

Gum Disease

Gum disease happens when plaque builds up on the teeth, plaque is “a sticky substance made from leftover food particles and saliva that mix in your mouth” according to Humana. Plaque also contains bacteria which contributes to tooth decay and gum disease. Excess plaque can lead to inflammation of the gums or gum disease. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can cause gum discomfort and repeated bleeding of the gums when brushing your teeth. It is recommended that if you think you have gingivitis you should make an appointment with your dentist so that you can work together to come up with an action plan to combat the gingivitis for the betterment of your oral health. Periodontitis is a more serious variant of gum disease, “without treatment, periodontitis can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. This can cause teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss.” according to the Mayo Clinic. If you think you have either of these types of gum disease you should book an appointment with the dentist and radically improve your dental healthcare routine. 

 

Stress

Prolonged stress can weaken your immune system over time, this is ‘because stress decreases the body's lymphocytes, the white blood cells that help fight off infection. The lower your lymphocyte levels, the more you're at risk for viruses like the common cold." according to Penn Medicine. Having a reduced immune system can put you at risk of inflammation in the body, if the inflammation occurs on or near your gums your gums can become more sensitive for a period of time until the inflammation subsides.

 

Smoking

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) “Smoking weakens your body's infection fighters (your immune system). This makes it harder to fight off a gum infection. Once you have gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal.” If you have been feeling under the weather recently and your gums have been more sensitive than normal, why not consider starting to cut down on how many cigarettes you have a day? Cutting down on smoking particularly if you have been smoking for a long time should be done in a slow controlled process, if you just suddenly stop smoking you are much more likely to pick up the habit again.

 

 

Hormonal Changes In Women

Hormonal changes in women “can impact the blood supply to the gums and can modify how the body responds to plaque buildup”, according to the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This can make your body less able to fight off infections and disease, leading to your gums being less able to fight off gum disease. If you are currently experiencing hormonal changes such as you are pregnant or experiencing menopause you should make an extra effort to ensure that your teeth are well looked after, with regular teeth brushing and use of mouthwash.

 

Tooth Growth

Tooth growth doesn't just happen when we are kids, but adults also experience tooth growth of our wisdom teeth. When a wisdom tooth grows it increases pressure on your gums which can lead to sensitivity. Also, wisdom teeth are harder to reach than other teeth meaning that dental plaque can build up more easily. To avoid problems with your wisdom teeth ensure that you make an extra effort to brush your wisdom teeth.  

 

Conclusion

To conclude both teeth and gum sensitivity can be reduced by ensuring that you have a good oral healthcare routine and cutting down on sugary foods and drinks. If you smoke you should also consider cutting down due to the fact smoking negatively affects the immune system.  

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