7 At-Home Tips for Treating Sensitive Teeth

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If your teeth are sensitive, it's probably because the enamel covering on your teeth has worn down. When enamel becomes thin, it exposes the nerve and tooth pain becomes likely.

Everything from the foods you eat to the way you brush your teeth can affect this. Try these simple at-home tips to ease the pain.

1. Watch food and beverage temperature.

Extreme temperatures can make pain shoot through a sensitive tooth. Try to avoid foods and drinks that are very hot or very cold. Let tea or coffee cool a bit. Opt for foods you can eat at more neutral temperatures. Sip room-temperature water instead of ice-cold water. Brushing your teeth with cold water can be painful, too. Clean your teeth with lukewarm water instead.

2. Curb your sweet tooth.

A sugary sweet treat can trigger shooting pains if your teeth are sensitive. Avoid candies, desserts, drinks, and other goodies that are very high in sugar. Be particularly wary of very chewy, sticky sweets. They'll stick to your teeth and may get stuck down in the crevices. Always brush your teeth after eating anything sugary.

3. Skip the acid.

Acids in foods and drinks attack your teeth and wear away the enamel. That's bad enough. But, as the acid hits the nerves in your teeth, it can also be painful. Steer clear of sodas or other carbonated drinks. Wine, orange juice, and other citrus fruits and juices also are high in acid, so avoid or limit them. Limit how much yogurt you eat, too. If you do have an acidic drink, use a straw to keep the acid off your teeth and ease your pain.

4. Wash away irritants.

If you eat or drink something containing a lot of acid, try to act quickly. For instance, drink some milk or water to wash away the acid to prevent pain and damage. But, don't brush your teeth right after you eat something acidic. The acid weakens the enamel, and it may wear away more easily when you brush.

5. Brush gently.

Even flossing or brushing your teeth can be painful when they're very sensitive. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles. Brush gently instead of vigorously, using an up-and-down motion, instead of brushing side-to-side. Also, use a gentle toothpaste. Toothpastes that contain something abrasive could scratch your teeth and cause discomfort.

6. Try a desensitizing toothpaste.

You can buy special toothpaste for sensitive teeth. This type of toothpaste helps block the sensation from reaching the nerve. So, you may not feel as much pain. Try brushing twice a day with it. Or, if you have a spot that's ultra sensitive, apply a small bit of toothpaste directly on it. You may start seeing improvement within a few days to a few weeks. 

7. Don't whiten.

Many whitening substances and kits make your teeth more sensitive. You may feel discomfort while the bleach is on your teeth, or shortly after you finish the treatment. Don't use these bleaching materials if your teeth are very sensitive. If you want a whiter smile without sensitivity, talk with your dentist about your options.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Dec 18

  1. Sensitive Teeth. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sensitive-teeth 

  2. Sensitive Teeth. British Dental Health Foundation. https://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/caring-for-teeth/sensitive-teeth

  3. Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/nutrition/food-tips/9-Foods-That-Damage-Your-Teeth

  4. What Causes Sensitive Teeth, and How Can I Treat Them? Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sensitive-teeth/faq-20057854

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