Achieving a beautiful, straight smile is definitely something to be proud of. However, it’s not uncommon to experience tooth sensitivity after braces.
This article will guide you through effective methods to relieve tooth sensitivity after braces, allowing you to enjoy your newfound smile without any discomfort.
Tooth sensitivity is a common issue experienced by many people, especially after orthodontic treatment with braces. It occurs when the protective layer of enamel on your teeth wears down, exposing the dentin underneath. The dentin contains microscopic tubules that lead to the nerve endings of the tooth, making it sensitive to various stimuli such as hot or cold temperatures, acidic foods, and brushing.
1. Use a Desensitizing Toothpaste
One of the simplest and most effective ways to relieve tooth sensitivity is by using a desensitizing toothpaste. These toothpastes contain ingredients that help to block the sensation of pain and discomfort.
Look for toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth and use it as part of your daily oral hygiene routine. Apply a small amount to your toothbrush and gently brush your teeth for at least two minutes, focusing on the sensitive areas.
2. Avoid Acidic and Sugary Foods
Acidic and sugary foods can exacerbate tooth sensitivity, so it’s important to limit your consumption of such foods. Acidic foods, like citrus fruits and sodas, can erode the enamel on your teeth, while sugary foods can contribute to tooth decay.
Opt for a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limit your intake of sugary snacks and beverages.
3. Rinse with Saltwater
Saltwater rinses have been used for centuries to alleviate oral discomfort, including tooth sensitivity. The natural antibacterial properties of salt can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
To make a saltwater rinse, dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water. Swish the solution in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit it out. Repeat this process two to three times a day for relief from tooth sensitivity.
4. Apply a Fluoride Gel or Rinse
Fluoride is known for its ability to strengthen tooth enamel, making it less susceptible to sensitivity. You can find fluoride gels or rinses over-the-counter at your local pharmacy or supermarket.
Follow the instructions provided on the product for proper usage. Typically, you will apply the gel to your teeth using a mouth tray or rinse your mouth with the fluoride solution for a specific duration. Incorporate fluoride treatment into your oral care routine to help reduce tooth sensitivity.
5. Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush
Brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush can help alleviate tooth sensitivity. Hard-bristled toothbrushes can be abrasive and cause further damage to your enamel.
Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush your teeth gently using circular motions. Remember to replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if the bristles become frayed.
6. Wear a Nightguard
If you find that your tooth sensitivity is worse during sleep or upon waking up, wearing a nightguard can provide relief. Nightguards act as a cushion, protecting your teeth from grinding or clenching.
These habits can put excessive pressure on your teeth and exacerbate sensitivity. Consult your orthodontist for a custom-fitted nightguard that will fit comfortably and provide the necessary protection.
Professional Dental Treatments
Fluoride Gel or Varnish Application:
Description: These treatments strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the transmission of sensations, providing relief from sensitivity. The fluoride products used by professionals are stronger than those found in over-the-counter toothpaste and mouth rinses.
Procedure: The dentist or hygienist will apply the gel or varnish directly to the sensitive areas of your teeth, usually leaving it on for a few minutes before wiping or rinsing it off.
Bonding Agents to Seal Sensitive Areas:
Description: Dental bonding, using a resin material, can be applied to sensitive areas, especially if the sensitivity is due to exposed root surfaces.
Procedure: The dentist will apply the bonding material directly to the tooth surface. This material is then hardened with a special light, effectively sealing off exposed areas.
Desensitizing Agents Prescribed by Dentists:
Description: These are specialized formulas (often in the form of toothpaste or gels) that help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve.
Usage: Patients are typically instructed to use these agents at home as part of their daily oral care routine.
How to Prevent Further Sensitivity
1. Using Mouthguards if Grinding or Clenching is a Problem:
Description: Grinding (bruxism) or clenching of the teeth can wear down enamel or even cause tiny fractures, leading to increased sensitivity. A mouthguard can protect the teeth from these forces.
Procedure: A dentist often provides a custom-made mouthguard tailored to fit the patient’s mouth comfortably.
2. Regular Dental Check-ups to Monitor Tooth and Gum Health:
Importance: Regular visits allow dentists to detect and address potential causes of sensitivity early on, such as cavities, gum recession, or tartar buildup. Early interventions can prevent more severe dental issues and heightened sensitivity.
Frequency: Most dental professionals recommend check-ups every six months, though specific needs may vary.
3. Addressing Any Orthodontic Relapse Early:
Description: Orthodontic relapse occurs when teeth shift back to their original positions after orthodontic treatment. This movement can lead to bite misalignments, which may increase the risk of grinding or tooth wear, contributing to sensitivity.
Solution: Regular follow-ups with an orthodontist, especially after braces or aligner treatments, and wearing retainers as prescribed can prevent or address relapses.
Tooth sensitivity after braces is a common occurrence but can be managed with the right techniques and care. By using desensitizing toothpaste, avoiding acidic and sugary foods, rinsing with saltwater, applying fluoride treatments, using a soft-bristled toothbrush, and wearing a nightguard, you can effectively relieve tooth sensitivity. Remember to consult your orthodontist if the sensitivity persists or worsens. With proper care and attention, you’ll soon be able to enjoy your new smile without any discomfort.