Ask the Dentist – What are the best products to reduce tooth sensitivity?
-by Dr Shruthi Dayal
There are multiple underlying causes of tooth sensitivity and not all require treatment from your dentist. Some common reasons for sensitivity are exposed root surfaces, worn enamel, clenching/grinding habits, recent dental work, cavities and chipped or fractured teeth. Understanding the reasoning for your sensitivity can help your dentist recommend one of these common solutions.
Desensitizing toothpaste: These toothpastes contain active ingredients that block the pain signal from your tooth surface to the sensory nerves inside your tooth. Ask your dentist for recommendations on which toothpaste may work best based on your symptoms.
Fluoride: Fluoride is a natural component of your tooth enamel and bones. Prescription strength fluoride toothpastes or fluoride varnish applications help keep your enamel more mineralized making it stronger and more resistant to acids.
Bonding: In some cases your dentist may recommend exposed root surfaces be covered with a tooth-colored filling to protect an exposed root surface. This is usually recommended if the recession is more advanced.
Root canal: If your sensitivity becomes severe, happens spontaneously, and is inconsistent it could be a sign of an underlying problem that may warrant treatment of the nerve in the tooth. A root canal removes the pulp in the tooth and is the most effective treatment of sensitivity if other measures are not successful.
To prevent sensitive teeth, brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Be mindful of the amount of pressure you are using while brushing and avoid abrasive products such as whitening toothpastes. If you grind your teeth ask your dentist about a night time mouth guard. Tooth grinding can put extra stress on the teeth which may wear down enamel and fracture teeth leading to sensitivity. Avoid acidic foods and drinks that can weaken enamel over time. Make sure to mention any sensitivity you are having at your next dental appointment so your doctor can help you find a solution!