Summer time! How to stop tooth sensitivity when eating ice cream
Summer is a time of pure delight, marked by outdoor adventures and the quintessential pleasure of indulging in a scoop of delectable ice cream. However, for those with sensitive teeth, the simple act of enjoying this icy treat can transform into an uncomfortable experience. The jolt of unexpected sharp pain can quickly overshadow the joy of savouring your favourite flavours on a sweltering summer day. But fret not; in this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind tooth sensitivity and provide practical solutions to help you relish your ice cream without unwelcome discomfort. As summer arrives, it’s time to enjoy every moment, one chilly spoonful at a time.
Tooth Sensitivity and Its Causes
Tooth sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity, is a common dental issue affecting millions worldwide. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the protective outer layer of your teeth, known as enamel, becomes compromised or worn down, exposing the dentin underneath. Dentin contains microscopic tubules that connect to the nerve endings in the tooth’s pulp. When dentin is exposed, stimuli such as hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages can trigger fluid movement within these tubules, stimulating the nerve endings and causing a sharp, often painful sensation in the tooth.
Understanding tooth sensitivity causes is crucial to effectively managing and preventing this discomfort. Here, we’ll explore some common reasons behind tooth sensitivity:
Tooth Enamel Erosion
A protective enamel coating covers the outer layer of your teeth. When this enamel erodes due to aggressive brushing, acidic foods, or acidic beverages, it exposes the dentin beneath, leading to sensitivity.
Receding gums expose the tooth roots, which lack the enamel protection that covers the crown. This makes the teeth more susceptible to sensitivity, especially when exposed to extreme temperatures or pressure.
Cavities or dental caries can penetrate deep into the tooth, reaching the sensitive pulp. This can result in sensitivity to temperature and sweet foods.
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can wear down the enamel and expose the dentin, causing sensitivity. It often occurs during sleep and can be exacerbated by stress.
Cracked or Damaged Teeth
Cracked or chipped teeth can expose the tooth’s inner layers, including the dentin and pulp, leading to sensitivity.
Stomach acidity, often caused by acid reflux, can lead to tooth sensitivity. When stomach acid flows back into the mouth, it can erode tooth enamel, weakening the teeth and making them more sensitive to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic substances.
Acidic Foods and Beverages
Consuming a diet high in acidic foods and drinks can gradually erode tooth enamel over time, contributing to sensitivity.
Our enamel naturally wears down as we age, making older individuals more susceptible to tooth sensitivity.
Understanding the underlying causes of tooth sensitivity is the first step toward effective management and prevention. If you experience persistent or severe tooth sensitivity, it’s essential to consult with a dentist who can diagnose the specific cause and recommend appropriate treatment options.
Preventive Measures to Avoid Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity can be uncomfortable and painful. Preventive measures can help reduce or even prevent tooth sensitivity. Here are some strategies you can follow:
Brush your teeth at least twice daily, preferably in the morning and before bedtime. This helps remove food particles, plaque, and bacteria, contributing to sensitivity. Keep the following things in mind when brushing your teeth:
- Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid damaging your enamel and gums. Brushing too vigorously with a hard brush can lead to enamel erosion and increased sensitivity.
- Keep your brush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line, and brush your teeth using a gentle, circular motion. This reduces the risk of enamel abrasion.
- Spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth to ensure thorough cleaning.
Use a toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes often contain ingredients like potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which help block the transmission of pain signals from the tooth surface to the nerve. A toothpaste containing fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel, making it more resistant to sensitivity.
Regular Dental Check-ups
Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, typically every six months. During these visits, your dentist can identify and address any dental issues early, preventing them from worsening and causing sensitivity. Your dentist can also advise on proper oral hygiene techniques and recommend suitable products based on your needs.
Reducing Acidic and Sugary Food Consumption
Reduce your consumption of acidic foods and drinks like citrus fruits, sodas, and fruit juices. Acid can erode tooth enamel, leading to sensitivity. Minimise your intake of sugary and starchy foods, as they can contribute to tooth decay and gum problems, which may exacerbate sensitivity.
Drinking Water After Consuming Acidic Foods
After consuming acidic foods or drinks, rinse your mouth with water or drink plain water. This can help neutralise acids and wash away any residue contributing to enamel erosion and sensitivity.
If over-the-counter desensitising toothpaste isn’t effective, consult your dentist. They may recommend in-office desensitising treatments, such as fluoride varnishes or bonding agents, which provide more concentrated and longer-lasting relief by creating a protective barrier on the tooth’s surface. This barrier helps strengthen the enamel and seal exposed dentin tubules, reducing the transmission of pain signals to the nerves and effectively decreasing sensitivity for an extended period.
Your dentist may recommend specific dental products, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, or mouthwash, based on your individual needs and the severity of your sensitivity. Follow their guidance to ensure you’re using the most suitable products.
Some natural remedies may provide relief from tooth sensitivity, such as:
- Mix half a teaspoon of salt in warm water. Rinse your mouth with this solution to reduce inflammation and discomfort.
- Make a solution with baking soda and water and rinse your mouth to neutralise any acidity caused by food or stomach issues.
- Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to sensitive areas. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties and can soothe discomfort.
- Brew green tea, let it cool, and use it as a mouthwash. Green tea contains antioxidants that can help reduce sensitivity.
- Swish a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Spit it out, and then rinse your mouth with water. It is known as oil pulling technique. Coconut oil may help reduce sensitivity and improve oral health.
- Chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol can help stimulate saliva production, which can protect teeth.
Remember that while these preventive measures can help reduce tooth sensitivity, the underlying cause of your sensitivity should be addressed by your dentist. If you continue to experience persistent or severe sensitivity, consult your dentist for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment options.
Whitehorse Dental focuses on preventive dentistry solutions to help you find relief from tooth sensitivity, addressing the issue at its root causes. We provide a range of tailored options to effectively reduce tooth sensitivity, ensuring dental comfort and overall well-being with personalised treatments for the entire family. From preventive measures and specific treatments to oral health guidance and education, our team is committed to enhancing your dental health and quality of life.
Get Relief From Tooth Sensitivity Today
Don’t let tooth sensitivity interfere with your daily life any longer. Our Blackburn dentists can help find the root cause of your tooth sensitivity, helping manage symptoms and providing preventive and precise treatments to help you eat your favourite foods with freedom. Book a consultation for a personalised assessment and tailored treatment plan. Your dental health matters, so take action today!