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Tips for easing pain associated with sensitive teeth

Hey Doc, my teeth are so sensitive I can’t drink anything cold at all even cool water really hurts my teeth. I brush and floss regularly but I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in a while because it is so painful. Any suggestions?

Having sensitive teeth can really alter your diet, eating habits and, in some cases, even change your lifestyle. Although it is not common, in a certain percentage of the population the hard enamel that covers, protects and insulates the tooth does not extend all the way down to where it should. Others may have gum recession due to a malocclusion (bad bite) or as a result of gum disease or surgery. Whatever the cause, the result is pain, often times extreme pain when eating or drinking cool or cold food or drinks. Fortunately, I can offer some suggestions to help alleviate or eliminate your discomfort.

The most basic is to try toothpaste for sensitive teeth. In mild cases, this may be all you need to eliminate the sensitivity. Another thing that can help is fluoride. Most over-the-counter toothpastes contain fluoride but I’m talking about something stronger. Prescription strength fluoride comes in gels, pastes, creams and rinses and you’ll need to obtain a prescription from your dentist to fill at the pharmacy.

In cases of extreme sensitivity, fluoride may be combined with some new products available at most dental office. Some of these are able to lay down a new layer of enamel while others can penetrate inside the tooth strengthening the enamel. The results range from a marked decrease in sensitivity to total elimination of any sensitivity altogether.

While these products are important and can help with the problem visiting your dentist and hygienist regularly can also help. Regular visits keep your dentist apprised of your situation and enable him or her to alter or change your individual therapy depending on your progress.

Another thing that can help with sensitivity when having your teeth cleaned is the use of nitrous oxide gas. While it is not a “pain reliever” it does alleviate anxiety to a degree and lessens the “white knuckle” feeling some people experience. Most dental offices offer this adjunct to treatment. It is safe, effective and leaves no lasting effects giving you the ability to drive yourself to and from your appointment. It is not to be used on women who are pregnant or may be pregnant. Consult your dentist as this may be an option to help with your sensitivity.

As you can see sensitivity can be alleviated by several different means. Your dentist and dental hygienist have extensive experience with this type of problem and are best suited to help with your problem. Give them a call, you’ll be relieved that you did.

Dr. Eck appreciates all of your phone calls, letters and e-mails. He can be reached at389-9400 or atmarcodentalcare.com.

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