Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sensitive Teeth - How to Make Your Teeth Less Sensitive

Oral health is an important thing to maintain, especially as you get older. Our gums tend to recede as we age, leading to gum disease and tooth sensitivity due to exposed roots. While gum recession is a common dental problem, it is one that you do not want to ignore. If left untreated, the supporting tissue and bone structure of the teeth and be irreversibly damaged, and you could possibly end up losing the affected teeth.

There are a few things we need to keep in mind to not only stave off this mouth malady, but to possibly reverse the bad effects that gum recession can cause. There are things you can try at home on your own without involving dental professionals.

The first thing you can do (starting today!) to help prevent gums from receding and exposing roots, is to stop the heavy-handed tooth brushing. Roughly brushing your teeth can cause the gum tissue to become irritated and pull away from the teeth. Switch to a soft bristled toothbrush and don't push so hard while you're brushing. Hard brushing not only causes gums to recede, it also wears away your enamel, which also protects you from sensitivity.

You should also pay close attention to which toothpaste you are using. Try to avoid the whitening, tartar-control, and baking soda toothpastes. They're abrasive and can contain phosphates, which make teeth sensitive. Many over-the-counter toothpaste brands have a sensitive version that is priced just a tad higher than their other kinds of toothpaste. Try softly brushing with sensitive toothpaste, especially right after eating and right before bedtime. You can also just put a dab on your finger and rub it on the sensitive part of your teeth where the tooth and gum meet, then leave that on overnight.

Keeping your teeth clean by brushing twice a day would seem like an obvious way to stave off dental issues, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't follow this simple self-maintenance rule. Plaque, the yucky goo that naturally forms on teeth, produces an acid that further irritates your teeth and gums. Not only brushing twice a day, but adding a daily flossing will help keep plaque at bay.

Using a fluoride rinse is another way to help decrease sensitivity. Non-prescription fluoride rinses are available at your local pharmacy or in the dental health section of your grocery store. These can be used like a mouthwash, once a day, swished around in your mouth then spit out.

Teeth can also become sensitive from trauma, or bruising. If you like to crunch down on those popcorn kernels at the bottom of the microwave bag, you can unintentionally be bruising your teeth. Or if you are a habitual tooth-grinder or jaw-clamper, you may be causing a constant pressure that will spur on sensitivity as well. Sensitivity caused by situational events may only last a day or two. This is nothing to be alarmed by, however if your sensitivity continues and is persistent, you should take it seriously and schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible.

Habits that involve keeping things in your mouth for long periods of time can become abrasive to your gums and cause sensitivity as well. Sucking on hard candies constantly can cause gum recession. Chewing tobacco tucked between your teeth and gum can not only cause gum degeneration, but also mouth cancers, and should generally be abstained from for good health all around.

While some of these things are common sense, some do require a bit of testing to see if they work as a solution for you as an individual. However, if you have long-term sensitivity or unbearable mouth pain, the best thing you can do is to consult a dental professional.

By Renee Maikon DDS
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