Sensitive Teeth

Cure for Sensitive Teeth

What causes teeth to be sensitive to hot or cold foods and liquids? It could be dental caries (cavities) or a tooth abscess, so be sure to see your dentist on a regular basis to rule out this cause. No cavities? Then you just have "sensitive teeth". This is a condition caused by tiny (even microscopic) cracks in the tooth enamel, which allows the heat or cold to penetrate to the nerve. It is more common with increasing age, but could start at any age.

One possible cause is excess acid in your diet that erodes the enamel of your teeth. Drinks with acid are the major culprit, including citrus juices, especially lemonade, and colas with high phosphoric acid content. Eliminating these from your diet could make a big difference, and you should notice an improvement in a few weeks.

There are several products, such as toothpaste, which attempt to numb the pain, but these are only a temporary fix, and usually not very effective.

Seal up the cracks!

If eliminating acidic drinks does not work, a great "cure" involves actually sealing up the cracks. Sometimes the dentist can apply a coating which seals the cracks to some extent. I have found this to wear off pretty quickly, or not be effective at all. Most sealants would only cover the opening of the crack, so when it wears off, the entire crack is opened up again.

My dentist recommended a product called "Gel-Kam" (Colgate) which has proved to be a "miracle cure" for me. It is concentrated fluoride, which seals the cracks at a molecular level. The tiny fluoride atoms can fill in the microscopic cracks completely, so they fill the crack all the way to the bottom.

Another cause of sensitive teeth is receding gums. Be sure you are brushing away from the gums, not down onto them (which makes them recede).

Controlled randomized studies have shown that fluoride gel or solution is effective in reducing tooth sensitivity. Where exposed nerve roots are the cause, a more concentrated solution was more effective. Check with your dentist if you feel this to be the case.

Use carefully!

It does take a bit of effort to make this cure work! Too much fluoride can make you sick (fluorosis). It must be applied slowly over a period of weeks.

Here is how you do it:

1. Floss and gently brush your teeth at bedtime.

2. Rinse your mouth out well.

3. Put Gel-Kam (a slimy gel) on about half of your toothbrush and gently apply that one small dose to all your teeth. Gently brush it on, and be sure to get the sides and backs of all your teeth. Don't swallow it!

4. Immediately spit out all the residue. But DO NOT RINSE ! The trick is to keep that coating of Gel-Kam on your teeth all night long!

5. It is OK to swallow saliva during the night. It will not contain enough fluoride to hurt you.

If you notice any side effects, stop the treatments and report your side effects to your doctor or dentist. Side effects of too much fluoride include: White spots on the teeth,  nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, excessive salivation, muscle cramps or convulsions. Using the gel properly should not give any side effects.

You should notice improvement in a week or so, and a maximum effect in a few months. You can then stop the treatments, but it is OK to repeat the treatment any time you get any sensitivity. It is also OK to use Gel-Kam in a preventive way, once a week, to stave off sensitivity.

 

 

© Rick Voakes 1999, Health-bytes LOGO  by Rie Cramer