Teeth sensitivity is a common dental problem observed among one in eight American adults. It is a sudden sharp pain in the teeth associated with the consumption of certain food and drinks. Brushing and cold air can also trigger discomfort.
Temperature variation (hot or cold) along with the sweet or acidic nature of food and drinks are common triggers. The pain is usually temporary, but the discomfort makes people wary of consuming their favorite meals. It also makes mealtimes less of a joy.
The prevalence of teeth sensitivity has been observed in around 40 million people in the United States alone. This rising trend must not be ignored.
In certain cases, constant tooth pain can be a symptom of more than just sensitive teeth. It can be an indicator of some major dental problems below the surface. It is always best to get a proper diagnosis from a dentist.
The Woes of Teeth Sensitivity
Teeth sensitivity can leave a person irritable. The pain of an affected tooth radiates to the head and adds a headache to the list of discomforts. Before we get down to how to relieve the pain, let’s break down the reasons why someone might be suffering from teeth sensitivity.
Our teeth come with their own layer of protection called enamel. This hardened layer protects the inner layers of the teeth from harm. It acts as insulation against temperature and other substances.
While it is the toughest tissue in our body, it is prone to erosion with time. While enamel erosion occurs with age, there are also multiple external factors responsible for the process.
As this tough layer wears down, it exposes the soft tissue and nerves of the teeth to external stimuli. Once exposed, it reacts painfully to temperature variations and certain foods. It also makes teeth more vulnerable to decay and disease.
What Is Responsible for Teeth Sensitivity?
It is vital to know the cause of teeth sensitivity in order to treat it properly and prevent its recurrence. While pain can be managed, treating the symptoms alone is not the answer. Figuring out the root cause of the problem will provide us with better solutions.
Besides the time factor, what are the other factors involved in the progression of enamel loss and teeth sensitivity?
- Overzealous Brushing Routine. Aggressive brushing of the teeth does not make them whiter or cleaner. Instead, the added external pressure on the teeth causes the enamel to wear down. The hurried routine also means the deep crevices of the teeth do not undergo proper cleaning.
This creates a playground for plaque formation. Once the biofilm forms on the teeth, it eats away at the enamel with the help of acids in your food. This spells trouble for oral health. It opens up the space for cavity formation and disease.
- Constant Consumption of Acidic and Sugary Food. Acidic and sugary foods are a constant part of our fast lives nowadays. However, they have detrimental effects on our health in the long term.
They are especially damaging to our oral health since they wear down the enamel and assist in plaque formation.
- Damaged Teeth or Fillings. Any damage or injury to a tooth opens up pathways for more dental issues. A cracked tooth may occur from an external injury or constant teeth grinding (known as bruxism).
Sensitive teeth may also result from the wear down of previous dental work, such as fillings or crowns. Damage to the filling or crown exposes the inner layer of the tooth and its root to external stimuli and subsequent pain.
- Bleaching and Alcohol-Based Mouthwash. Overuse of bleaching agents or toothpaste with bleaching chemicals can result in teeth sensitivity. They can induce changes in the physical structure of the teeth and make them vulnerable.
Similarly, alcohol-based mouthwashes have been proven to be harmful to oral health.
- Gum Disease and Gum Recession. Teeth sensitivity can be an underlying symptom of gum disease or gum recession. Gum disease happens due to improper dental care.
Gum recession can be the underlying symptom of gum disease. It also happens due to aggressive brushing, teeth grinding, aging, injury, or as a harmful consequence of smoking.
Both expose the soft tissue and roots of the teeth to bacteria and pain from external stimuli.
Put A Stop to the Pain—Immediately!
There are several long-term and short-term remedies to stop sensitive teeth pain in its track. There are several home remedies that provide almost immediate relief from the nagging pain. They include:
- Salt Water Rinse. Salt acts as an antiseptic, and a warm concoction of salt water provides a soothing balm to your sensitive teeth. It calms down inflammation.
Mix one teaspoon of sea salt into one glass of lukewarm water until completely dissolved. Use this rinse to gargle and swish around your mouth for 30 seconds. Do not swallow!
- Sensitive Products. Purchase toothpaste and mouthwashes meant for sensitive teeth. These will help prevent irritation of the gums. Toothpaste with fluoride will provide additional support in reducing the symptoms of sensitivity.
You may also want to tamp down your aggressive brushing routine and exchange your hard toothbrush for a softer one.
- Honey and Warm Water. Honey is well-known for its antibacterial A warm concoction of honey and water will help reduce inflammation and pain caused by sensitive teeth. It will also promote healing.
Mix a teaspoonful of honey into a warm glass of water, and swish it around your mouth for a few seconds.
- Hydrogen Peroxide. The mild antiseptic disinfectant can help prevent infection and inflammation. It can also help promote healing.
To create a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash, apply the equal ratio formula. Mix two parts of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with two parts of water. Rinse your mouth for 30 seconds and spit. You repeat the process thrice a day.
- Clove oil has pain-relieving properties. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. A dab of clove oil on the affected tooth will help relieve the pain. One can also chew on a bud of clove until the pain minimizes.
However, cloves may cause irritation in some people. If you suspect a possible allergic reaction, consult a doctor immediately.
- Vanilla Extract. Vanilla not only elevates the flavor of desserts but also doubles as a home remedy for sensitive teeth. It boasts of antiseptic and analgesic properties. A dab of it can be applied to the gums to relieve pain.
- This orange-colored spice boasts anti-inflammatory properties, courtesy of the presence of the compound curcumin. It is linked with Ayurvedic medicine. It helps calm down inflammation and relieves pain.
Create a thick paste using one teaspoon of turmeric with water, and massage it into your gums twice a day. You can also use freshly ground turmeric for better benefits.
- Green Tea. Green tea contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has shown a positive impact on oral health. You can prepare a nice cup of green tea as an afternoon drink, or you can use it as a mouthwash.
- Capsaicin is a naturally occurring spicy compound in chilli peppers. Research has shown it has analgesic properties. Its frequent topical use can numb the pain associated with tooth sensitivity.
- Oil Pulling. The practice of oil pulling may help reduce the painful effects of teeth sensitivity. This Ayurvedic practice involves swishing a small amount of coconut oil in your mouth for about 15 seconds and then spitting it out.
Several studies have been conducted to show the effectiveness of oil pulling in oral health. Since coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, it may be effective in reducing sensitivity.
- Stop doing whatever is aggravating your teeth sensitivity. If cold food is causing you jarring pain, stop consuming it until the sensitivity has been treated.Eliminate food and drinks from your diet that are adding to the problem, such as highly acidic juices, sweets, coffee, etc.
If you are an avid bleacher, take a step away from your bleaching routine and give your teeth time to heal.
- If you are prone to grinding your teeth in stressful situations or during sleep, make sure that you get a proper mouthguard to prevent further damage to your teeth and gums.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure!
Teeth sensitivity is preventable. Follow a healthy diet, an excellent oral hygiene routine, and safeguard against damaging habits to maintain strong and healthy teeth. Enamel is irreplaceable once lost. Hence, proper care must be taken to ensure that one does not lose this protective layering.
If you fall prey to the cursed sensitivity, do not fret. The pain is treatable, and the damage can be controlled. Its recurrence can be avoided too.
Despite there being several home remedies to relieve teeth sensitivity, care must be taken not to neglect professional aid. If the pain persists or gets worse, it could be an indicator of a larger issue at play.
Consult a dentist to ensure the well-being of your teeth, and do not skip out on your regular doctor’s appointments.