Not every sensitive tooth is a sign of tooth decay or gum disease. Your teeth can become more sensitive with age, as well as with exposure to whitening products and acidic foods. (1), (2)
Keep these tips in mind to tame a sensitive tooth, or sensitive teeth:
- Avoid the daily grind. Tooth grinding, or bruxism, can lead to a sensitive tooth or teeth. Not only can the act of grinding itself cause a sensitive tooth, but chronic grinding can wear away tooth enamel and expose tiny tubules that lead to the nerves in the inner part of the tooth. If you grind your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about a mouth guard.
- Don’t be bitter. Highly acidic foods, such as tomatoes, oranges, and lemons, can irritate a sensitive tooth. Try to eat these foods less often.
- Control coffee and tea intake. The acid in tea and coffee can annoy a sensitive tooth. If you drink several cups of coffee or tea daily, try cutting back, or diluting some of your coffee and tea drinks with water to reduce the acidity.
- Don’t forget fluoride. Fluoride helps protect against tooth sensitivity by strengthening tooth enamel. Look for toothpaste and mouth rinses that contain fluoride. Stannous fluoride is particularly good for treating sensitive teeth.
- Warm water works. A sensitive tooth may be irritated if you brush your teeth with cold water. Try using warmer (but not hot) water when you brush your teeth. (1), (2)
Sensitive Teeth Can Be Bright and Healthy
Just because you have a sensitive tooth doesn’t mean that you have to pass up the opportunity for a whiter, brighter smile. But be aware that some teeth-whitening products can irritate an already sensitive tooth. If you have sensitive teeth and you are considering teeth-whitening treatments, keep these points in mind.
- Read the labels. There are many options for at-home teeth-whitening products, including several for sensitive teeth. Start with one of these gentle products, and follow the instructions. If you still notice a sensitive tooth, try using the whitening product less frequently. Some types of toothpaste whiten teeth but also protect against tooth sensitivity.
- Keep your expectations realistic. Gentler teeth-whitening products may produce less dramatic whitening effects than products with a higher concentration of whitening ingredients. But you can still have a healthy smile—try whitening toothpastes that promote brighter teeth by removing surface stains. (1), (2), (3)
Get Sensitive to a Regular Oral Care Routine
Your oral health need not suffer because of a sensitive tooth, and a regular oral care routine is one of the best ways to reduce the pain of sensitive teeth. If you have a sensitive tooth or sensitive teeth that persist, visit a dentist to find out whether you have a cavity, an infection, or the beginnings of gum disease. Catching a sensitive tooth problem early may spare you more complicated dental procedures later. (1), (2)