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When you have sensitive
teeth, activities such as
brushing, flossing, eating
and drinking can cause
sharp, temporary pain in
your teeth. Sensitive teeth
are typically the result
of worn tooth enamel
or exposed tooth roots.
Sometimes, however,
tooth discomfort is caused
by other factors, such
as a cavity, a cracked
or chipped tooth, or a
side effect of a dental
procedure, such as
bleaching.
If you’re concerned about
sensitive teeth, start by
visiting your dentist. He
or she can identify or
rule out any underlying
causes of your tooth
pain. Depending on the
circumstances, your
dentist might recommend:
• Desensitizing toothpaste.
After several applications,
desensitizing toothpaste can
help block pain associated with
sensitive teeth.
• Fluoride.
Your dentist might
apply fluoride to the sensitive areas
of your teeth to strengthen tooth
enamel and reduce pain.
• Covering exposed root
surfaces.
If receding gums are
the cause of your sensitive teeth,
your dentist might apply a sealant
to cover the exposed tooth roots.
• Root canal.
If your sensitive
teeth cause severe pain and other
treatments aren’t effective, your
dentist might recommend a root
canal — a procedure used to treat
problems in the tooth’s soft core
(dental pulp).
To prevent sensitive teeth from
recurring, your dentist might offer
suggestions to help you maintain
your oral health. Twice a day, brush
your teeth with a soft-bristled
toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
Floss daily. Avoid vigorous or harsh
scrubbing, highly abrasive toothpaste,
and excessive brushing and flossing. If
you grind your teeth, ask your dentist
about a mouth guard. Tooth grinding
(bruxism) can fracture teeth and cause
sensitivity.
You might also consider limiting acidic
foods and drinks, such as carbonated
drinks, citrus fruits, wine and yogurt
all of which can remove tooth enamel.
When you drink acidic liquids, use a
straw to limit contact with your teeth.
After eating or drinking an acidic
substance, drink milk or water to
balance the acid levels in your mouth.
It also helps to avoid brushing your
teeth immediately after eating or
drinking acidic substances, since acid
softens enamel and makes it more
vulnerable to erosion during brushing.
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Apr/May 2014