Updated 15 January 2018

How to manage sensitive teeth

Do you suffer from sensitive teeth? Dr Simon Reeves shares some helpful tips on how to manage tooth sensitivity.

If you suffer from sensitive teeth, the good news is that there are a number of ways to treat the problem.

Here are five ways to managing sensitive teeth. 

1. Desensitising toothpastes and mouth rinses

There are a variety of desensitising toothpastes and mouth rinses on the market today, and I have no hesitation in recommending them to my patients.

Always brush your teeth gently – remember you’re not scrubbing bathroom tiles. Here are some tips to brushing your teeth properly:

Brush, spit, don’t rinse

Once you’ve brushed your teeth, spit out the bulk of the toothpaste but don’t rinse with water. Leave that bit of toothpaste in your mouth to continue doing what it is designed to do, which is to seal the exposed dentine tubules and help the tooth to remineralise.

Use a small amount of toothpaste

Apply a small amount of the desensitising toothpaste to the sensitive areas by placing some on your finger and putting it on the surface of the tooth (a bit like applying pimple cream). Don’t rinse.

See your dentist

A visit to an oral health professional (dentist, oral hygienist or dental therapist) is also recommended. Even if the home care works, you don’t want the desensitising effect of the toothpaste or mouth rinse to mask what could possibly be a more serious problem.

toothpaste, tooth brush, dental

2. Topical desensitising agents applied by professionals

Dentists, oral hygienists and dental therapists can apply powerful desensitising agents, which are not for sale to the public, to sensitive teeth. This can be in the form of a varnish, applied with a brush, or as a gel in disposable trays. This usually follows a thorough cleaning of your teeth and a detailed checkup.

dentist, patient, teeth, dental care

3. Laser desensitisation

Although they are not considered standard equipment in a dental practice yet, more dentists are equipping themselves with lasers to assist with a variety of different dental procedures, one of which is painless and effective treatment of tooth sensitivity.

laser, dentist, dental, teeth

4. Improve your overall oral health

Dentists, oral hygienists and dental therapists are trained to diagnose and treat all forms of dental and periodontal (gum and bone) diseases.  

Cavities should be cleaned and repaired to prevent further decay and infection, and gum problems should be addressed too. 

If your gums appear red and a bit swollen, if they bleed when you brush, floss or use a toothpick, it usually indicates that you have a gum problem. Early gum problems (gingivitis) can be easily reversed by having your teeth professionally cleaned regularly.

More serious gum disease is treatable but it is better to prevent it from developing in the first place, especially as it can affect your overall health.

5. Everything in moderation

Try to avoid excessive intake of acidic foods and drinks. These are usually some of our favourites, but you need to give your teeth a chance to recover from the last acid attack before launching another one!

Image credits: iStock


Ask the Expert

Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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