If you suffer from sensitive teeth, then you’ll be familiar with the sharp pain that comes with extreme temperatures in food and drink. The pain can put you off enjoying your favourite treats, whether it’s your morning coffee or an ice cream. Dentists are regularly asked for advice on how to stop sensitive teeth and the treatments available.
What is tooth sensitivity?
Sensitivity occurs when the tooth’s enamel wears down. Enamel is the hard, mineral coating on your teeth that protects the more fragile layer underneath called dentin. This layer is full of tiny hollow tubes, that create a passageway to the nerves inside the tooth.
Without enamel to protect these canals, the nerve is exposed to things which can trigger pain, such as:
- hot/cold food and drink
- cold water
- cold air
- brushing or flossing
- alcohol-based mouth wash
- acidic food and drink
- sweet food and drink
What causes sensitivity?
Finding out how to stop sensitive teeth, starts with knowing what’s causing it. There are a wide variety of reasons and each requires a tailored approach to treatment.
If you brush your teeth too vigorously, then you’re more likely to wear away the enamel on your teeth, particularly if you also use a hard toothbrush. Some people naturally have thinner enamel and this puts them at risk of brushing away the protective coating.
Too much acid
The acid in some food and drink can erode tooth enamel. Fruit juice, fizzy drinks, wine, and chocolate are all high in acid and can cause irreparable damage to your teeth.
Other health conditions
It isn’t just the acid from food that puts your teeth at risk – your stomach acid is just as damaging. Conditions such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) cause acid to flow back up from the stomach into the mouth, which can lead to tooth erosion. Likewise, any condition that causes frequent vomiting can have the same lasting effect.
Enamel only protects the part of the tooth that sits above the gum line (the crown), so any damage to the gum will expose the softer part of the tooth usually hidden away. Not only can this lead to the pain normally associated with tooth sensitivity, but receding gums can also be a sign of gum disease and should be checked by a dentist.
Damage to the teeth
Broken or chipped teeth, worn down fillings, and missing crowns are all likely to cause tooth sensitivity. It’s also quite common for people to grind their teeth at night when they are sleeping, and over time you might find this wears away the tooth’s enamel.
A build-up of plaque on your teeth can cause tooth decay that leads to cavities. If your tooth sensitivity is a result of decay, then the pain is likely to be felt in just one tooth, and will also occur when you are biting down or chewing. Another obvious sign of tooth decay or damage to the root is a staining on your teeth.
How to stop sensitive teeth
Depending on the severity of your tooth sensitivity and what is causing it, you may be able to treat the problem at home, but we would recommend seeing a dentist to rule out any complex, underlying issues first.
Your dentist will check for sensitivity in your teeth and if they suspect you have a cavity they may ask to take an X-ray. Your treatment will be based on the dentist’s findings but they may suggest:
- a graft to repair damage to the gums caused by gum disease
- fluoride gel treatment to strengthen your enamel
- wearing a mouth guard at night to prevent teeth grinding
- application of a resin to cover exposed dentin
The best way of looking after your teeth is to practice good oral hygiene – always remember to brush and floss regularly to protect the enamel on your teeth. Flossing is important for reaching the areas your toothbrush can’t get to, particularly along the gum line where bacteria – known as plaque – can start to build.
We’re regularly asked how to stop sensitive teeth, and we recommend the following:
- switch to a soft bristled toothbrush
- use an alcohol-free mouth rinse
- use a desensitising toothpaste to block the pain
- avoid acidic food and drinks if you can
If your pain is more severe, then you might also consider using a prescription-only high strength fluoride toothpaste like Colgate Duraphat.
How does fluoride help?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is found in water. It works by strengthening tooth enamel, so it is less susceptible to decay and prevents sensitivity.
All toothpastes contain fluoride, but some have a higher concentration for patients with the early onset of tooth decay. Colgate Duraphat, for example, has 5000ppm of fluoride and is only available from dental practices or pharmacies like Post My Meds.
It’s used in place of regular toothpaste, so expect to apply it two to three times per day, preferably after meals. Around 2cm of toothpaste provides 3- 5 milligrams of fluoride; we recommend checking how much fluoride there is in your local water supply before you buy Colgate Duraphat. To find out whether your water is fluoridated, check with the water supplier in your area – you can find these details on your bill.
How to buy online
Post My Meds is subject to all the same checks as a walk-in pharmacy on the high street. Our pharmacists are highly-skilled practitioners with years of experience and they can advise you on the right course of treatment.
Because Colgate Duraphat is only available with a prescription, we will ask you to complete a short online consultation form to ensure suitability when placing your order. If you place your order before 4pm on a weekday or 11am on a Saturday, it will be dispatched the same day.
If you’re still unsure about how to stop sensitive teeth, contact the team at Post My Meds for advice from our pharmacists on the right course of treatment for you.