Few things are more uncomfortable than sensitive teeth. In addition to making it difficult to enjoy a nice ice cream cone or a cup of hot cocoa, teeth can become so sensitive that it can make it hard to breathe through your mouth, eat, or even sleep. Fortunately, you can ward off sensitivity with a few clever tricks. Here are four effective ways to relieve tooth sensitivity.

1. Whiten Less Frequently

Every tooth consists of enamel, dentin, and a pulp chamber filled with nerve bundles and blood vessels. Enamel is the hard, white exterior of the teeth, and although it looks solid, it actually consists of a vast network of hydroxyapatite crystals. This network is porous, which is why teeth can become stained in the first place. If you whiten your teeth, the peroxide agent penetrates the enamel, whisks away surface stains, and removes discoloration from the underlying dentin layer. Unfortunately, this deep penetration comes along with another side effect: dental sensitivity.

When peroxide comes in contact with nerve bundles and tiny blood vessels, it can increase the internal pressure of the tooth and lead to mild pulpitis, or the inflammation of the inner tooth nerves. Fortunately, there is a cure for this uncomfortable condition: hold off on the whitening products.

If you suffer from whitening-related dental sensitivity, hold off on the teeth whitening, or consider seeking other cosmetic dental procedures. Research has shown that whitening related sensitivity can be reversed by simply cutting back and giving your teeth a chance to recover between treatments.

2. Schedule A Comprehensive Periodontal Exam

Tooth sensitivity has many causes, but it typically means one thing: your teeth need a little TLC. Dental pain is the natural result of dental decay, inflammation, pulpitis, and tooth injury, which is why you should visit with your Long Island periodontist at least once a year for a comprehensive periodontal exam, or CPE.

During your CPE, your periodontist will carefully evaluate the condition of your teeth, gums, bite, and the underlying bone tissue that supports your tooth sockets. Here are some problems that could cause dental sensitivity.

• Damaged Restorations: Missing fillings, damaged dental bonding, or broken crowns can leave the soft dentin and pulp chamber exposed, causing dental sensitivity. Fortunately, your periodontist can repair these restorations and remove any infections, relieving your pain.

• Loose Gums: Gingivitis and periodontal disease can cause the gum tissue to loosen around each tooth, causing sensitivity. To eliminate gum disease, your implant dentist in Long Island can offer treatments such as LANAP to sanitize the gingival pockets and encourage healing.

• Worn Enamel and Eroded Gum Tissue: Worn enamel and eroded gum tissue can cause extreme dental sensitivity, because hot and cold foods will be able to reach your inner pulp much easier. To stop dental sensitivity, your periodontist can apply tissue grafts or add a crown to the affected tooth.

• Infections and Decay: During your CPE, your periodontist will also look for the signs of infection and decay causing sensitivity so that he or she can treat those issues proactively.

• Teeth Grinding: Teeth can become hopelessly fractured or worn down due to teeth grinding, which can lead to extreme dental sensitivity. However, dental implants in Long Island can be used to replace teeth that are damaged beyond repair, and your periodontist can prescribe special guards to prevent further damage.

After your periodontist evaluates your teeth, he or she will talk with you about a treatment plan that can ward off dental sensitivity for the long haul.

3. Use Sensitivity Toothpastes

Although you might be tempted to slather your teeth with Orajel, dental sensitivity can be resolved by simply changing your daily toothpaste. Sensitivity toothpastes work in two different ways—either by numbing your tooth nerves or by plugging the tiny holes in your dental enamel.

Toothpastes containing potassium nitrate work by interfering with the nerve transmissions between the tiny nerve bundles inside of your tooth and your brain, reducing your pain levels. The potassium ions are thought to calm your nerves, eliminating irritation.

Toothpastes containing strontium chloride work by plugging the microscopic tubules that lead through the enamel and dentin, essentially keeping hot and cold temperatures outside of the tooth where they belong. The more you use toothpastes with strontium chloride, the more of these tubules are blocked, and the less sensitive your teeth will become.

Both types of toothpastes are considered safe, with potassium nitrate being considered a very low hazard and strontium chloride carrying only mild health risks.

4. Take Care Of Gum Recession

Gum recession caused by over brushing, certain medications, injury, previous problems with gingivitis, or simple genetics can also cause dental sensitivity. Because the dental roots don’t contain a thick layer of enamel, they are much more prone to sensitivity than the crown of the tooth. Fortunately, some periodontists offer the Pinhole Surgical Technique, which is a new, minimally invasive procedure that moves gum tissue to cover root exposure. In addition to being faster than traditional gum grafting, the Pinhole Surgical Technique is also a blood-free, stitch-free procedure that most patients tolerate very well.

For more information about reducing gum sensitivity or any of the procedures listed here, contact your periodontist today.