How to Relieve Tooth Sensitivity

The number one concern of patients in my hygiene chair is sensitivity. It comes in all forms, caused by cold, hot or sweets. Simply brushing can also cause a feeling I describe as a “zing.” It can be frustrating, and even life altering, when tooth sensitivity prevents enjoying the things we once could – like ice cream!

tooth sensitivity
photo credit: @dylanluu accessed 11/26/19 via CC0

It is important to bring up any tooth sensitivity at your dental appointments. The majority of sensitivity comes from exposed root surfaces (recession). Sensitivity can also come from tooth issues such as cracks or nerve issues. Describing your symptoms and the location gives your dentist a chance to thoroughly check the area and give a diagnosis.

If sensitivity is from recession, here are some tips that could help you.

Check Your Toothpaste

Discontinue any use of whitening toothpastes. Many toothpastes that advertise as whitening are actually quite abrasive. These pastes can irritate the recession areas and wake up those nerve endings, leading to increased sensitivity to cold, brushing and sweets. Our Rochester family dentistry office offers a list of many toothpastes on the market, with the abrasive level stated for each.

Look for Toothpaste with Potassium Nitrate

Potassium nitrate is an ingredient that blocks the nerve endings to provide relief. If sensitivity is a major issue, look for a toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate.  It is important to use the sensitivity toothpaste as your only toothpaste consistently for two to three weeks. Brushing with different toothpastes will wash out the potassium nitrate and you won’t experience as much relief. It is safe to use it continuously, as long as any other tooth issues are ruled out as the cause of sensitivity.

Change your Toothbrush

It’s important to change your toothbrush at least every three months, or when you notice your bristles splaying. These bristles can lead to sensitivity as they become rough. Make sure you are using a soft or extra soft bristled brush as well.

Talk to your Dentist

If you’ve tried all of the above and are still experiencing sensitivity, let your dentist know. There are in-office applications of a desensitizing medicine that can be tried. In addition, your dentist could possibly fill the area that is causing issues. This would cover the area and close off nerve endings.

Any other tooth sensitivity could mean you may need a crown to address a crack. You could also need a root canal due to a deep cavity or irreversible nerve damage in the tooth. Your dentist will explore all of the available options with you!

Request an Appointment

Family Dentist Tree is a family-oriented dental office located in Rochester, MN. Whether you need a cleaning, filling, crown, root canal, treatment for gum disease, or teeth whitening, we are here to help you with all your dental needs. We serve all ages, and our offerings include family dental care and senior plans. Request an appointment online or call us at 507-288-1188.