Sometimes, it’s a dull ache that catches you off guard as you take a deep breath on a fresh winter day. Sometimes, it’s a lightning shock that prevents you from enjoying the slice of warm apple pie with ice cream. Maybe it’s the overall discomfort that is keeping you from enjoying your freshly whitened smile. Sensitivity pain can ruin your enjoyment of simple everyday pleasures and interrupt your daily life. When it’s time to stop putting up with it and do something about it, you have several options. Some are readily available home treatments, some require more extensive help from your dental professional team.
1. Change Your Toothpaste
There are several toothpaste formulas on the market that are formulated to help with sensitive teeth. In most cases, a product marketed as a sensitive toothpaste will have a desensitizing agent–an ingredient meant to calm/numb the nerves in the tooth that is acting up. It can take a week or longer to feel adequate relief in many cases, and it’s more focused on the symptoms than the causes. But, it’s inexpensive and can be done at home without undue inconvenience.
2. Up Your Topical Minerals
The underlying cause of sensitivity is exposed nerves. Using mineral-rich treatments can help relieve sensitivity by repairing the weak spots in the enamel that allow air and hot or cold liquids to aggravate the nerves in the first place.
Fluoride treatments, usually at strengths prescribed by your dentist, can provide sensitivity relief. Fluoride treatment with gels or varnishes show the best results for sensitivity treatment and have the added benefit of helping prevent cavities at the tooth root. Nano hydroxyapatite, the absorbable form of the mineral that makes up most of the enamel, also has shown to help reduce sensitivity by repairing small enamel defects. This is particularly true with sensitivity after bleaching or whitening treatments. A product containing fluoride and nanohydroxyapatite can help treat sensitivity by treating the underlying cause, and is still a fairly convenient, low fuss way to approach the problem.
3. Consider Bonding
If you are still experiencing regular discomfort from sensitive teeth and are willing to see your dentist for more extensive procedures, bonding at the root surface may provide significant relief. With bonding, the dentist applies composite resin like the composite resin used in fillings at the base of each sensitive tooth. It’s a simple procedure done in your dentist’s office. If exposed root surface due to receding gums was causing your sensitivity, bonding can be curative, meaning it is a fix for the problem. It does cost more than using a sensitive toothpaste or mineral treatments, but it is a one time treatment. Obviously, it requires a dental visit, not an at home treatment.
4. Look at Gum Repair
Gum repair is a surgical procedure. A dental healthcare professional with specialized training will harvest healthy gum tissue and move it to an area where the gums have receded. If exposed roots from receding gums are causing your sensitivity and you are willing to undergo oral surgery, this may be the solution for you. It is a more costly option for treating sensitivity, but it also is a solution focused on treating causes rather than treating symptoms.
5. When All Else Fails, a Root Canal
In a root canal an endodontist or a dentist with appropriate training removes the nerve of the tooth. This effectively treats sensitivity, because a nerve that’s gone is not going to be aggravated. This is the most invasive way to treat sensitivity, but it may be appropriate for individuals experiencing significant pain that interferes with daily life who haven’t found adequate relief with less invasive treatment.