If you cringe in pain every time you sip hot coffee or bite into an icy treat, you are one of the estimated 40 million adults that suffer from sensitive teeth. This common condition is medically known as dentin hypersensitivity and occurs when the dentin layer of the teeth becomes exposed, resulting in sharp, sudden pains when encountering hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and liquids.
The exposed dentin contains thousands of microscopic tubules that lead directly to the vulnerable nerve pulp, allowing external stimuli to reach the nerve and trigger discomfort. Sensitivities range from mild twinges to severe toothaches that makes eating and drinking uncomfortable.
Dentinal hypersensitivity can have detrimental effects on oral health and quality of life, leading many sufferers to avoid foods they love. The condition can impact nutrition and social interactions.
Fortunately, recent advances in oral care products provide targeted relief right at home. Specifically, today’s specialty sensitivity toothpastes and medicated oral rinses can effectively soothe and seal off exposed dentin tubules.
By delivering key ingredients like potassium nitrate, fluoride, and calcium phosphate directly to sensitive areas, these over-the-counter products offer convenient daily relief in between dental visits. Using sensitivity toothpaste and mouthwash as directed can finally provide long-lasting relief from those unpleasant twinges of pain so you can comfortably enjoy all your favorite foods and beverages again.
How Mouthwash Helps Sensitive Teeth
Mouthwash provides the following benefits to relieve sensitivity discomfort:
a. Soothes nerves in exposed dentin
Some mouthwashes contain desensitizing agents like potassium nitrate or arginine. These compounds block the exposed dentin tubules, reducing the transmission of pain signals from the tooth surface to the nerve, thus minimizing sensitivity.
b. Strengthens enamel
Mouthwashes with fluoride can help remineralize enamel and repair tiny areas of erosion, making the teeth less sensitive.
c. Reduces bacteria
Certain mouthwashes have antibacterial properties that help control gum disease and reduce inflammation. By promoting overall gum health, these mouthwashes can indirectly alleviate tooth sensitivity caused by gum recession or gingivitis.
d. pH Balance
Mouthwashes often help balance the pH level in the mouth. An acidic environment can contribute to enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity. Neutralizing this acidity can prevent further damage to the teeth.
e. Flushes debris to improve oral hygiene
Using mouthwash as a part of your oral hygiene routine can reduce plaque and bacteria in the mouth by removing trapped food and plaque that cause irritation. When teeth are clean and free of harmful bacteria, the risk of developing sensitivity due to decay or gum issues is lowered.
f. Fresh Breath
While not directly related to sensitivity, a mouthwash that keeps your breath fresh might encourage better oral hygiene practices. Regular brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can help maintain overall oral health, reducing the likelihood of sensitivity issues.
Key Ingredients to Look For
The most effective mouthwashes for sensitive teeth contain some of the following active ingredients:
1. Potassium Nitrate:
Potassium nitrate works by calming the nerves in the teeth, reducing their sensitivity to pain signals triggered by heat, cold, or pressure. Dentists often recommend potassium nitrate-based mouthwashes for their efficacy in managing tooth sensitivity. By blocking pain signals, it provides relief for individuals experiencing discomfort due to exposed dentin or worn enamel.
2. Stannous Fluoride:
Stannous fluoride has dual benefits for sensitive teeth. It not only seals dentinal tubules, which are tiny passages in the teeth leading to the nerve, but also strengthens enamel. By creating a protective layer over the sensitive areas of the teeth, it reduces the transmission of pain signals and fortifies the tooth structure, making it more resilient against external stimuli.
3. Amorphous Calcium Phosphate (ACP):
ACP is crucial for rebuilding the mineralization of enamel. It helps to remineralize weakened enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks and reducing sensitivity. By replenishing lost minerals, ACP enhances the overall strength and density of the tooth enamel, preventing further erosion and discomfort.
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is widely known for its ability to remineralize enamel. When enamel demineralizes due to acids produced by bacteria, fluoride aids in the remineralization process, restoring the enamel’s mineral content. By blocking sensitivity transmission and reinforcing the enamel, fluoride plays a vital role in managing tooth sensitivity and preventing tooth decay.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that also acts as an effective tool against cavity-causing bacteria. By reducing harmful oral bacteria, xylitol helps prevent tooth decay and further damage to the teeth. Maintaining a balanced oral flora is essential for overall dental health and can indirectly contribute to reducing tooth sensitivity.
How to Use Mouthwash for Sensitive Teeth
Look for a mouthwash specifically designed for sensitive teeth, often labeled as “desensitizing” or “for sensitive teeth.” Use it as directed on the label, keeping in mind that some are meant for daily use, while others are more suited for occasional use.
It’s also best that you avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes since they can dry out the mouth and potentially worsen sensitivity. Opt for alcohol-free alternatives.
Once you find the right specialty sensitivity mouthwash, you can integrate it into your routine as follows:
- Swish the recommended amount for the full duration – often 60 seconds.
- Concentrate the liquid around affected teeth.
- Spit gently and avoid rinsing with water which dilutes effects.
- Use mouthwash once or twice daily after brushing and flossing.
- Continue using for 2-4 weeks or as directed for maximum relief.
For severe cases, additional in-office treatments may be needed from your dentist alongside daily use of medicated mouthwashes. But consistent use provides ongoing protection against sensitivity!
Mouthwash makes an excellent additions to your sensitive teeth care regimen. Swishing daily with formulas containing potassium nitrate, fluoride, and other soothing ingredients will help desensitize painful teeth and gums.
Still, it’s essential to address the root cause of tooth sensitivity. If the discomfort persists or worsens, consult a dentist. They can assess your oral health, identify the cause, and recommend appropriate treatments.