Dental Dialogues – Sensitive Teeth and Teeth Cleaning – What You Should Know & What You Can Do!
If you’re someone who normally experiences some sensitivity after a teeth cleaning, chances are you’re also a person who has sensitive teeth in general. While excellent oral hygiene is always a necessity and having your teeth cleaned is an important part of your oral health care routine, you might tend to shy away from a visit to the dentist or hygienist when you have sensitive teeth. Please don’t! When it comes to sensitive teeth and having your teeth cleaned, here’s what you should know and what you can do about your sensitive teeth both before AND after a cleaning.
A person with sensitive teeth is one who experiences pain when drinking hot or cold liquids or when drinking or eating highly acidic foods. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 people have sensitive teeth in their lifetime and even some people who don’t generally experience pain, may feel some sensitivity after a teeth cleaning. That’s because of what actually happens during a cleaning, but more on that in a moment. Sensitive teeth can also be the result of brushing too hard with a hard-bristled toothbrush and/or as a result of receding gums. Healthy gums should cover about 1/3rd of an individual’s teeth but receding gums expose more of the tooth to wear and tear, potentially even leading to root exposure which in turn causes sensitive teeth. Finally, those acidic foods we mentioned at the start of this paragraph don’t just cause you to feel pain and sensitivity but might also contribute to the overall damage of your teeth by eroding your tooth enamel. Since having your teeth cleaned typically involves scraping away at the plaque and tartar build-up on your already sensitive teeth, chances are you’ll experience teeth sensitivity after your visit to the Dentist or Hygienist. Here’s what you can do about it:
- Talk to your dental professional and/or the team here at Eglinton Square Dental Centre about your options. You might be a candidate for a fluoride varnish that can help to protect your teeth and reduce their sensitivity.
- Spend a few days tracking what causes pain in your teeth. Are they more sensitive to heat, cold or to both? Do citrusy and highly acidic foods bother you? Tracking might help you determine what foods or drinks to avoid or to only indulge in once in a while.
- Replace your toothbrush. A hard bristle isn’t necessary to scrape away at your teeth in order for them to feel clean. Replace your brush with a soft or medium bristled brush and lighten up a bit if you are an “aggressive” brusher.
- Use a toothpaste specifically geared to sensitive teeth. One of the ways that sensitive toothpaste works is by blocking “tubules.” It’s the tubule that transmits the signal from a sensitive tooth to the nerve of the tooth, thus causing the pain. Sensitivity toothpastes work by blocking the tubule – not sending the signal in the first place so that you won’t experience pain. You should expect to be using the toothpaste for at least three weeks before you notice a change in your symptoms and/or diminishing sensitivity.
- A teeth cleaning will scrape away some of those tubules, along with plaque and tartar so you will need to immediately resume use of a toothpaste designed for sensitivity so you can build up your protection once again.
- If you’re still having problems after the three-week point we mentioned earlier – it might be time to give our office a call and schedule another appointment.
Remember, sensitive teeth are normal but you don’t have to live with them normally! A little sensitivity after a cleaning should be expected for most patients but if you’re constantly experiencing sensitive teeth you’ll want to consider some of the suggestions we just reviewed to see if they help. If they don’t, the Eglinton Square Dental Centre Team is here for you with convenient later evening hours and Saturday appointments available. Contact us today because you shouldn’t have to consider sensitive teeth a “normal” way of life!
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