sensitiveSummer is here, and perhaps you will be shifting your daily cup of coffee habit over to cold drinks like iced tea instead to keep cool. Unfortunately, too many people have problems with sensitive teeth so when they drink cold drinks or eat ice cream, they experience mild to moderate (and sometimes even sharp) pain. Are there simple things you can do to limit this kind of tooth pain? Here we’ll talk about some home remedies for tooth sensitivity and tooth pain.

Tooth sensitivity is caused because the enamel of the tooth is worn down and the dentin is exposed. When this happens, cold and heat can be transmitted through the dentin to the pulp of the tooth where the nerves are. The nerves register that heat, cold, or pain and transmit it to the brain. Ouch!

The problem here is that the pulp is exposed – not the drink or the ice cream is too cold. Unless you do something about the damaged enamel, the pain will likely continue. The solution to the problem is usually dentistry, including fillings or root canals. Not every problem with sensitivity requires drastic action, though. There are some simple things you can do to minimize pain when you eat or drink. They are:

  • Avoid hot, cold, or acidic food or drink – You may not want to give up tea or coffee, but you don’t have to drink it piping hot or filled with ice. Room temperature food and beverages are much easier on exposed dentin. If you still want to eat your ice cream, lick it slowly instead of biting into it.
  • Use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth – There are many brands of toothpaste on the market that either help rebuild teeth with fluoride or cover up exposed dentinal tubules. The right toothpaste can help minimize tooth sensitivity. You may have to try a few to see which one works best for you.
  • Use a softer toothbrush – Softer bristles mean less gum irritation and that can help with sensitivity as well.
  • Rinse with salt water – Salt water will create a more alkaline environment in the mouth, killing bacteria. It also reduces swelling and pain and can be done as often as needed. Dissolve two teaspoons of sea salt in warm water and rinse your mouth twice a day for several minutes.
  • Try clove oil – Clove oil kills germs, numbs pain, and reduces inflammation. Cloves have been a recorded dental remedy for at least 1000 years and work well for tooth pain, tooth sensitivity, and dry socket. Clove oil is very strong, however. You should mix it with a carrier oil like coconut oil before you rub it on your teeth; otherwise it may burn.
  • Use garlic with or without salt water – Garlic is another powerful natural antibacterial agent and anesthetic. Crush a garlic clove and mix with 3 drops of water and a half of a teaspoon of salt and then apply directly to the problem. After a few minutes, rinse your mouth with salt water. You can also cut a clove of garlic in half and apply directly to the tooth. Leave it there for 10 minutes and then rinse with salt water.

The above remedies can be used either individually or in conjunction with each other as necessary to help stave off pain or improve oral health either for low level tooth sensitivity or until you can see a dentist for a more permanent fix. If you have further questions about which ones might be best for your sensitive teeth, ask your dentist at your next scheduled  cleaning.