Sensitive teeth are a common occurrence. We have all seen the numerous commercials about competing sensitivity reducing toothpastes. On a general level, many people deal with a level of sensitivity with their teeth. However, at Aura Orthodontics we realize that some of our patients face extra sensitivity. The following blog post discusses the various types of sensitivity and provides some helpful suggestions for how to care for sensitive teeth.
What’s the cause?
Before we offer any suggestions, it is important to know the cause. Tooth sensitivity can come from just about anywhere—sweet or sour foods, hot or cold temperatures, exposed root surfaces, and deep cavities or fillings. At Aura Orthodontics, our focus is helping patients that experience sensitivity due to biting and grinding teeth during their sleep. For some, even the simple act of biting down causes problems. What results is pain that ranges from mild to severe and at times is very sharp, almost like shooting pain directly to nerve endings. Overall, this is caused by nerve endings becoming easily exposed, which causes a lower tolerance for varying foods.
The most common cause of the sensitivity is due to over brushing. How can brushing cause tooth sensitivity? It is quite simple – if you brush your teeth extremely hard with tough bristles, you can expect to brush away your gum line. As your gum line recedes, it exposes porous root surfaces, which may cause some of your teeth to become extremely sensitive. The discomfort a patient experiences from braces is due to pressure that is placed on your teeth via the braces. This level of discomfort to your teeth and gums varies depends on each individual patient, and is different from other types of tooth sensitivity because it is not permanent and will only last a few days. At Aura Orthodontics, we make sure to educate our patients to help them reduce this pressure sensitivity resulting in a more pleasant treatment experience.
At times, when traditional braces are removed, patients will notice white spots on their teeth that are actually areas of decalcification. This often happens when patients were not as careful about brushing their teeth while they were wearing braces. If people with braces do not brush their teeth immediately after eating, the food can sit under those brackets for hours. This food acts as fuel for the acid-producing bacteria eventually leading to cavities. Sensitivity ensues and the damage only becomes fully evident when the braces come off. In some cases, there may be white spots, which indicate loss of minerals in the teeth, and those white spots are porous and become very sensitive.
First and foremost your daily routine is critical. No matter the origin of your sensitivity, a good dental health routine is your best bet to enjoying a pain-free day – everyday.
Being vigilant about proper brushing and flossing helps prevent tarter buildup and the risk of exposing nerves. Using a soft bristled toothbrush when brushing causes less abrasion and reduces the potential of gum recession. There are also several brands of toothpaste, which decrease nerve sensitivity after regular use. Check out your toothpaste aisle wherever you purchase toothpaste and try a brand (Sensodyne ® and Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief ® can be helpful). The key is to use it for at least two weeks – as this is when you may notice a decrease in tooth sensitivity.
For braces wearers, the actual placing of braces or a change in care is one of the largest causes for discomfort. These problems, though initially uncomfortable at times, usually stop as your mouth becomes accustomed to the new routine. Rinsing your mouth with salt water is one of the commonly advised tips for people experiencing discomfort from braces. Taking over-the-counter pain medications can sometimes work until the pain subsides. At Aura Orthodontics, we usually recommend Tylenol® over Advil® for our new patients with braces. Remember, it always best to check with Dr. Sharma before taking any medication. However, if you notice extreme sensitivity it is best to discuss with Dr. Sharma, who can recommend alternative solutions, like Invisalign braces, which are a great alternative to traditional wire and bracket braces.
To help prevent unnecessary discomfort, avoid hard, crunchy, or sticky foods. Things like nuts, taffy, gum or biting into an apple not only causes pain, they are often responsible for dislodging brackets and other orthodontic care. It is even recommended to try to eat softer foods. Hot foods may worsen your pain, so try ice creams or smoothies to reduce discomfort. Always consult Dr. Sharma before you actually decide to have a diet for an extended period of time.
Here’s a recap of recommendations from Dr. Sharma and Aura Orthodontics:
- Be vigilant about proper brushing and flossing
- Using a soft bristled toothbrush when brushing causing less abrasion and reducing the potential of gum recession
- Use a toothpaste specific for sensitive teeth like Sensodyne ® and Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief ®
- Rinsing your mouth with salt water if you experience discomfort from braces
- If pain persists taking over-the-counter pain medications like Tylenol® until the pain subsides
- If you experience extreme sensitive discuss your situation with Dr. Sharma who will recommend alternative solutions
- Avoid hard, crunchy, or sticky foods
- Try to eat softer foods and cold foods like ice creams or smoothies to reduce discomfort
- Always consult Dr. Sharma before choose a specific diet because of your braces for an extended period of time
Braces are mainly meant for aligning your teeth. At times, the discomfort from braces may seem like too much. Always remember that new technology has made treatment much more comfortable for all patients. More importantly, any discomfort you feel will only last a couple days. The good news is that a straighter more beautiful smile is on the way.