Teeth Sensitivity Treatment

Tooth sensitivity can take the fun out of your favorite foods and drinks. It can also be a sign of more serious dental issues.

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Treatments include rinsing with salt water, using a soft-bristled brush and low acid mouthwash, or applying desensitizing toothpaste. These home remedies can help, but more involved treatments are needed for lasting relief.

Salt Water Rinse

A simple salt water rinse has multiple oral health benefits including killing bacteria, reducing plaque, promoting healing after dental procedures, and freshening breath. They also soothe a sore throat and have positive effects on respiratory health, making them an effective remedy against common upper respiratory infections.

Salt inhibits bacteria by increasing the pH balance in your mouth, creating an alkaline environment that bacteria can’t thrive in. They also work to dissolve food debris and plaque that your toothbrush can’t reach. You can make your own salt water rinse at home by combining warm water with half a teaspoon of salt, then stirring the solution until it is completely dissolved. Warm water is better than cold to soothe a sore throat and make the solution more effective at dissolving the salt.

Salt water rinses are a cost-effective alternative to mouthwash, but they should not be used as a substitute for good brushing and flossing habits. It’s also important to keep in mind that they will not reduce bleeding gum tissue or treat the underlying cause of your sensitive teeth and gums, which is a bacterial infection.

Over-the-Counter Toothpastes

Besides whitening teeth, toothpaste can also help prevent gum recession, protect tooth enamel from erosion and decrease sensitivity, dentists say. A good toothpaste has mild abrasives to remove food debris and surface stains, humectants that prevent water loss from the mouth, thickeners and flavoring agents.

In addition, a good toothpaste should have remineralizing ingredients to rebuild tooth enamel and strengthen it to resist erosion, Levine says. Look for ingredients such as hydroxyapatite, potassium nitrate and fluoride to reduce discomfort from tooth sensitivity.

Another ingredient worth looking for is erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol that slows the growth of bacteria and makes a toothpaste less sticky. “This can be a good ingredient for people who want to use a fluoride-free toothpaste,” says Tina Saw, general and cosmetic dentist and CEO of Oral Genome. She recommends looking for a toothpaste that contains calcium carbonate (baking soda), which acts as a mild abrasive, and essential oils, such as peppermint, to soothe gums and fight germs. Also, check for the ADA Seal on the package to ensure that it meets certain safety and quality requirements.

Flossing

Despite the recent outrage over flossing possibly being a waste of time (and money), this oral health habit should not be tossed. Flossing removes bacteria, food particles and plaque between teeth. This keeps gums healthy, preventing gingivitis and freshening breath. This is a simple way to keep your teeth clean and protect against other health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, infections and even depression.

The mouth is one of the primary gateways to the rest of the body for harmful bacteria and germs. Keeping your mouth healthy with regular brushing and flossing helps reduce the load on your immune system so it can focus on other potential threats to your health.

It also seems that flossing lessens chronic inflammation throughout the body. This is based on the fact that periodontitis, or gum disease, can wreak havoc in the body by increasing inflammatory compounds like C-Reactive Proteins that wreak havoc in your cardiovascular system and other organs such as your lungs.

Gum Tissue Grafting

Receding gums can cause more than just cosmetic issues. They can also leave tooth roots exposed which makes them vulnerable to damage from bacteria, increased sensitivity and even periodontal (gum) disease. Gum tissue grafts can help prevent further problems by adding healthy gum tissue to your teeth and protecting the roots.

The procedure begins with numbing the area. Next, the surgeon creates an entry point to the graft site and moves receding gum tissue back to its original position covering the roots. This will reduce the risk of sensitivity and other oral health issues caused by exposure to the root.

Two common types of gum grafts are connective tissue grafts and free gingival grafts. In connective tissue grafts, the surgeon opens a small flap in your mouth to remove a strip of tissue underneath. This tissue is then inserted into the graft site where it bonds with existing gums. A similar but less invasive process is the pinhole surgery method. The gum graft will heal over the course of six to eight weeks. In the meantime, patients should eat soft foods and avoid hot drinks to protect the surgical site. They will be asked to use a bactericidal mouthwash and avoid flossing or brushing the area until your periodontist says it is safe.

Fillings

Tooth fillings can help to prevent further tooth decay and reduce sensitivity. A dentist will typically use a drill to remove the decayed areas of a tooth, then he or she will add a filling. The numbness from the anesthetic will usually wear off in a couple of hours. It is important to avoid chewing with the affected tooth until then and take over-the-counter pain relievers if needed.

Tooth Fillings can be made of composite resin, porcelain or gold. Composites are a natural looking option and are designed to blend with the tooth color, although they may not last as long as other types of fillings. Porcelain fillings, on the other hand, look more like your natural teeth and can resist staining. However, they may cost more upfront.

Dental fillings are relatively easy for a dentist to perform and don’t typically take very long. It is possible that a person will experience increased sensitivity to pressure, air or sweet foods after getting a filling but this sensitivity should fade within a few weeks. A dentist will examine a tooth with a filling during regular dental checkups to ensure the filling is secure and working properly.