Do you avoid allowing cold drinks to have contact with your teeth?
Does just thinking about sinking your teeth into some frozen dessert cause you to shudder from the pain you know you’d experience?
Sensitive teeth inhibits our lives in so many ways.
Tooth sensitivity can get so bad that even allowing cool air to touch your precious smile can cause pain. It’s tragic when we hold back a smile for fear of pain.
Something’s gotta change…
So let’s explore the causes of sensitive teeth, common triggers for tooth sensitivity, and simple strategies you can do to easily get rid of sensitive teeth at home.
Sad stats on sensitive teeth…
Tooth sensitivity is officially called ‘dentin hypersensitivity’.
According to research, 1 out of every 7 people in the US have some level of sensitive teeth.
Women experience sensitive teeth more than men. Age range most commonly impacted is 20 – 50 years old. Most common teeth to experience sensitivity are the ‘canine’ teeth and bicuspids (just ‘behind’ the canines before our molars).
In an effort to help you specifically address sensitive teeth (and not mistake dentin hypersensitivity for other types of dental pain), let’s unwrap this common issue.
Tooth sensitivity is a sharp, sudden pain in response to an external stimulus, that normally passes quickly. In fact, 75% of people who experience sensitive teeth have it from exposure to cold foods/drinks.
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Common triggers for sensitive teeth:
- very cold (frozen) foods/drinks
- cold foods/drinks
- hot/warm foods/drinks
- acidic foods/drinks (sweet is acidic)
- carbonated drinks (carbonic acid + sweet + cold)
- exposure to cold air
- mechanical stimulation (dental explorer or even toothbrush)
Here’s the path as we see it to help you stop the pain of sensitive teeth.
Identify your triggers
A big first step is to identify and become consciously aware of what triggers cause you to experience pain. It takes conscious effort as we’re kind of hardwired to avoid pain. So, to intentionally place our attention on pain takes focus and some courage.
Also, while you’re focused on noticing what exactly causes you pain, give your worst trigger (probably cold drinks) a rank from 1-10 and notice which teeth (or general region like ‘top left’) are most impacted. This will help you to determine that you’re heading in the right direction as you apply the strategies below to get rid of the pain of sensitive teeth for good.
Common causes of sensitive teeth
- gum recession
- enamel loss from acid dissolution
- commercial tooth whitening
Hands down, the most common cause of sensitive teeth is due to exposed roots associated with receding gums.
Here’s how it happens…
Gum recession causes the roots of our teeth to become exposed.
Unlike enamel, the surface of our roots is covered with cementum, which is almost as hard as enamel, but not quite. Once the roots are exposed, these teeth may become more prone to the pain associated with sensitive teeth.
Brushing too hard
Next, unless we’ve learned to brush our teeth consciously, the abrasion from most toothpastes combined with a heavy hand brushing causes excess wear on the exposed surface of our roots and our enamel.
It’s about here where someone wonders “is baking soda safe to brush with?” because even alkalinizing compounds like baking soda can trigger the pain of tooth sensitivity.
Acidic foods and drinks
Another culprit that causes sensitive teeth is exposure to acidic foods and drinks.
You see, acids dissolve teeth. This is why wrote the article “How to drink kombucha and not destroy your teeth“.
It’s worth restating… Acids dissolve teeth.
Regular exposure to acidic foods and drinks softens the outer most enamel (or cementum on our roots). Yes, sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented foods are good for our digestive health and here are some strategies how to help mitigate the risks of compromising your teeth while enjoying your acidic foods.
To compound this loss of minerals from our teeth, let’s combine the above two and brush (unconsciously) after having something acidic. This is why we encourage that we wait at least 20 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth.
It’s a fact that we can literally brush away more minerals from our teeth when they have been softened due to acid dissolution. Over time, this cascades into greater loss of enamel and greater sensitivity.
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Teeth whitening treatments
Special credit goes to whitening (bleaching) treatments. It’s been clinically proven that exposure to the concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and other bleaching agents commonly used in both over the counter and dentist applied teeth whitening procedures increases the porosity of our teeth and causes the most inner part of our teeth, the pulp chamber’ to become inflamed. This inflammation is what causes the sensitive teeth from whitening treatments.
Strategies how to stop sensitive teeth
So that’s what causes sensitive teeth. Now let’s explore how to unwind this situation and stop the pain…
Lessen the immediate pain
Nerves that get hyper stimulated can get a sort of ‘PTSD’ and get stuck in a hyper-aware ‘on’ phase.
Providing them a little analgesic to let them mellow out can very often help begin the healing process. We have found great benefit from using our HealThy Mouth Blend to assist in cooling off any nerves that are overly jumpy.
Stop exposure to known triggers
It goes without saying that avoiding the triggers you’ve identified that cause sensitive teeth for you is wise. Avoiding the cause temporarily will further help the nerves mellow out and get back to the calm, resting place we want our nerves to habituate.
However, in time, you’ll want to intentionally test your teeth to see if they are getting stronger and more resistant to the pain of sensitive teeth.
Avoid foods that reverse the dentinal fluid flow
The more we can encourage the healthy flow of the fluid in our teeth, the better we’ll be able to fend off any ‘invading’ influences, including external stimuli that causes tooth sensitivity.
If hearing that our teeth have a fluid flow in them is news to you, be sure to check out our article ‘Why teeth decay (and how to stop it)’ to learn about this important piece to the puzzle.
Stop causing more receding gums
We’ll cover how brushing too hard is a major contributor to sensitive teeth below.
Suffice it to say, if you have receding gums, please go read this article so you can learn how to stop causing more gum recession. “What causes receding gums and how to stop it”.
Learn to brush gently
Like we have said since the very first video tutorial we made, each of us learned to brush our teeth when we were toddlers. Yet, very few of us ever circle back to see if we can upgrade and improve our brushing technique.
One simple way to determine if you are using too heavy of a hand when brushing your teeth is notice how you hold your toothbrush.
If you have the brush handle in a ‘full fist’, you’re probably brushing like a toddler and are using your toothbrush like a scrub brush to clean the grout line in your shower. (I’m sorry for the tough love, but it’s that important). If on the other hand, you’re holding the brush with your finger tips, you’re naturally going to be using more fine motor skills and therefore be brushing much more gently.
So, the next time you’re brushing, just notice how you’re holding your toothbrush. It will tell you a lot.
Incidentally, this is why our not-so-fancy-but-effective Bass toothbrushes have a shorter handle. You literally can’t grasp the handle with a full fist. The design of the brush forces you to hold it with your finger tips, which leads to a softer hand while brushing.
Support the tooth structure
Ok, we’ve helped to unwind frazzled nerves, stopped the triggers, and made sure that we aren’t causing the problem by brushing too hard. Now it’s time to support our teeth to make them stronger, denser and more resilient to the external triggers that cause sensitive teeth.
Helping our teeth be healthy and strong is a big subject. For this article, we’re going to bring a couple strategies to light.
We can support our teeth to become stronger, more resistant to tooth decay (and sensitive teeth). Our bodies have amazing natural mechanisms to accomplish this. But we have to help our bodies have the right conditions to accomplish this healing.
Support from the ‘global’ (whole body) angle
We mentioned above the idea of avoiding foods that cause our dentinal fluid flow to reverse. In addition to avoiding foods that cause our remineralization mechanisms to breakdown, we can also provide our systems with foods that nurture our natural repair mechanisms.
While there are many components that are required to live a healthy life, of critical importance is that we make certain we have sufficient vitamin K2 in our diet. Without sufficient K2, it’s nearly impossible for the body to repair our teeth.
Here is a helpful resource for gaining more understanding about vitamin K2.
Support from the ‘local’ (in the mouth) angle
Demineralization and Remineralization are happening all the time in our mouths. It’s as constant as the ebb and flow of the tides. It’s our job to understand what causes these processes and encourage remineralization while discouraging factors that cause demineralization.
That’s why we created OraWellness Shine, our remineralizing tooth whitening powder. Shine provides our teeth with the exact minerals, in the right particle size, to the right location they need to support the remineralization mechanisms and innate wisdom our bodies have been blessed with.
Over time, emphasizing remineralization, we can reverse weakened teeth and sensitive teeth can become a thing of the past. We have experienced it personally as have literally thousands of happy customers all around the world.
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Takeaway gems to stop sensitive teeth for good
You can be free from the pain of sensitive teeth. It’s totally in your control and possible.
Here are the steps:
- Identify what specific triggers cause the pain
- Make sure you’re dealing with dentin hypersensitivity and not some other issue
- Help frazzled nerves to chill out (We use this.)
- Stop the trigger (for now)
- Make sure you’re brushing consciously
- Support the health of your teeth from inside
- Support the remineralization process in the mouth
- Retest to see lessened sensitivity.
- Give yourself a pat on the back! You did it!
Have you found strategies that you’ve successfully applied to stop and reverse the pain of sensitive teeth? Please share your experience in the comments below. It’s so powerful when we can learn from one another’s experiences. Truly, it quickens our healing process many times over.