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3150 North Elm Street, Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408

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Greensboro Dental Clinic, Dr. Margaret Szott

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June 8th, 2020

Treating a sensitive tooth

Often times, hot, cold, sweet or acidic food or drink can make your teeth sensitive.  Other times, the act of even breathing is painful.  Abnormal reactions in your teeth to normal actions may mean that you have sensitive teeth.  Tooth sensitivity is a common name for dentin hypersensitivity or root sensitivity. Half the population is affected by it  and it can come and go over time.

It is important to tell your dentist or hygienist if you have any bothersome teeth so they can diagnose potential tooth sensitivity  and help you choose the best treatment. However, here are a few remedies to help pass the time until your next appointment. 

Desensitizing Toothpaste
Desensitizing toothpaste contains ingredients such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride.  Both ingredients deter pain signals to the nerve of the tooth by blocking the tiny tunnels that run from the innermost enamel edge to the nerve of the tooth.  There are a variety of products available over-the-counter. Ask your dentist which product they suggest might work best for you.

Salt Water Rinse
Salt inhibits oral bacteria by temporarily increasing the pH of your mouth.  This more alkaline environment makes it difficult for oral bacteria to survive.   Salt is also an effective antiseptic and can help reduce inflammation. To diminish tooth sensitivity - gargle with a saltwater rinse twice daily.  A saltwater rinse can be created by mixing 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of lukewarm water.  Swish the solution in your mouth for up to 30 seconds and then spit it out.

Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic used on the skin to prevent infection of minor cuts, scrapes, and burns.  It can also be used as a mouth rinse to help remove mucus, heal gums, prevent inflammation and to relieve minor mouth sores.   To use hydrogen peroxide as a mouth rinse, add two caps of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to equal parts warm water. Swish the solution in your mouth for up to 30 seconds and then spit it out.   Rinse your mouth with water afterward to remove any remaining solution.

While the treatments above can help temporarily relieve pain symptoms, there are other things you can do to prevent more damage to your teeth.  For instance:

  • Don’t brush too hard and use a soft bristle brush - if you are brushing too heavily then you might be taking off tooth structure as well as plaque. . Also, side-to-side brushing right at the gum line can cause your gums to recede and expose root surfaces which tend to be more sensitive since they are not protected by enamel. A soft-bristled brush should always be used to  avoid irritation and abrasions.  It should be held at a 45-degree angle to your gum line.
  • Limit or avoid acidic foods and drinks - Soda, candy, and high-sugar carbs attack and dissolve your tooth enamel. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, cheese, milk, or plain yogurt make the mouth less acidic and help fight the bacteria that can dissolve your enamel. Green or Black Tea are good substitutes for soda.
  • Unclench your teeth - Grinding your teeth wears away your enamel. Address your stress triggers and if that doesn’t work, your dentist can fit you for a splint or a mouthguard.

It is important to maintain regular dental care.  Ignoring dental or mouth pain can make things worse.  Practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice per day and flossing once per day.  And, don’t forget to see your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and check-up to keep your smile bright and pain-free. 

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3150 North Elm Street
Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408
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