Sensitivity of the teeth is very common in adults and can be caused by one or more of the following conditions.
- Abrasion - over aggressive scrubbing with a toothbrush, especially if it is medium or hard.
- Erosion - a slow chemical dissolving of the tooth caused by ingesting acidic foods and beverages.
- Abfraction - the slow, microscopic fracturing of the teeth caused by clenching and grinding.
- Teeth Whitening/Bleaching - the bleaching agent can cause temporary sensitivity which is sometimes very uncomfortable but temporary and not harmful to the teeth.
To reduce overall sensitivity at home and at your dental cleanings try these techniques.
- NEVER use a medium or hard toothbrushes. We recommend that our patients use a soft, electric toothbrush... and NEVER scrub!
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking especially if it is acidic. Do NOT brush your teeth for 20 minutes after ingesting anything acidic.
- Try to stop clenching or grinding your teeth if you do it while awake. If you do it while asleep, talk to Dr. Adams about an occulsal appliance which would protect the teeth from damage.
- Discontinue using any toothpaste with a whitening agent. These toothpastes do not really whiten and can be very harsh and irritating.
- If you bleach your teeth use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth for at least one week before bleaching. If the teeth are still sensitive talk to our staff about obtaining a prescription strenght fluoride gel or MI Paste Plus to use nightly to ease this kind of sensitivity.
- Keep teeth free of plaque throughout the day, especailly along the gumline. Plaque produces acidic toxins which are irritating to the teeth.
- Use one or more of the following products as recommended by Dr. Adams or your Hygienist
1. Sensodyne or Pronamel toothpaste (OTC)- contains Potassium Nitrate which is absorbed into the tooth and helps to block the sensitive nerve endings. Use at least 2x's/day and do not mix with other OTC toothpastes.
2. Prevident Sensitive Toothpaste (Rx only, can be purchased at our office) - contains Sodium Fluoride and Potassium Nitrate in higher concentrations than the OTC products. Use at least 2x's/day and do not mix with other toothpastes.
3. Gel-Kam (Rx only, can be purchase at our office) - Stannous Fluoride Gel is absorbed into the tooth to block sensitive nerve endings. Apply to teeth at bedtime after flossing and brushing.
4. MI Paste Plus (Can only be purchased through a dental office, not available at pharmacys) Apply nighly after flossing and brushing.
If your teeth are ONLY sensitive during cleaning appointments, use one of the products above for 2 weeks prior to your cleaing appointment.
However, if you teeth are sensivitve during cleanings, tell your Hygienist at the start of the appointment and the Hygienist can do one or more of the following:
- Use warm water only
- Use the ultrasonic scaler on the lowest power
- Apply Pro-Relief Desensitizing paste before treatment. Pro-Relief contains Pro-Argin which provides instant sensitivity relief. This is a Rx only product and not available for home use.
- For extremely sensitive teeth the area can be injected with an anesthetic as needed to completely numb the tooth.