An t i - Ag i ng DENTISTRY MONTHLY NEWS
Look Your Best
AND AVOID THE WORRY OF SENSITIVE TEETH
For many, February is the month of love. Many people will be dressed in their finest as they enjoy a night on the town on Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day. Of course, a night on the town also means many people with whitening and brightening their teeth for the occasion. They want to look their best and be prepared for every photo opportunity. But tooth whitening can also come with an unwanted side-effect: tooth sensitivity. This often happens when people go overboard with at-home tooth whitening products, as many of these products contain harsh chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, which is a leading cause of sensitivity today. Tooth sensitivity can be traced back to before the invention of at-home tooth whitening. When I became a dentist over 30 years ago, it was common for tooth sensitivity to be caused by improper brushing, using the wrong toothbrush, and gum recession. As the gums recede, for instance, many people experience sensitivity to hot or cold liquids. In the past, gum recession was commonly caused by improper brushing and that’s still the case today. We see a lot of people who are brushing too hard, leading to recession. As time went on, I started to see more tooth sensitivity caused by jaw clenching and grinding. This wears away the enamel and can eventually expose the interior layers of the tooth. Clenching and grinding are primarily caused by stress and anxiety.
And then there was the rise of tooth whitening. In the late 1980s and into the ‘90s, there was an explosion of tooth whitening products on the market. Many of these products were hydrogen peroxide-based. But there was a reason why so many tooth whitening products were becoming available: Starbucks! Starbucks coffee shops were starting to appear everywhere. More and more people were drinking coffee and they were noticing the stains on their teeth. Starbucks’ sugary drinks were having a serious impact on everybody’s teeth. As a result, many more people started using teeth whitening kits. I saw the number of tooth sensitivity cases shoot up by 50% in a matter of years! This is why products like Sensodyne toothpaste became so popular in the ‘90s and remain popular today. It’s also why I developed my own products for people with tooth sensitivity in Lumineux Oral Essentials. What can you do about tooth sensitivity? It’s important to look at the root causes. If your sensitivity is caused by improper brushing, you may need to adjust how you brush your teeth. You may also need to get a soft brush (as recommended, always use a “soft” brush). If you use an electric toothbrush, make sure it’s doing the work for you. You only need to press lightly against your teeth. If you’re clenching or grinding, a nightguard may be the solution. It will keep your teeth from rubbing against one another and will reduce sensitivity. You can also look for your sources of stress and anxiety and work to reduce or eliminate those, but this can be very challenging. Finally, if you do find yourself using teeth whitening products regularly, make sure they don’t use hydrogen peroxide-based products. Look for products designed with sensitivity in mind. The Oral Essentials Whitening Strips are a good place to start. You can continue to drink your coffee (always use a lid or straw when drinking staining beverages like coffee, tea, and red and green juices!) and have beautifully white teeth.
I’ve noticed that over the years, there
has been a distinct increase in the number of grinding or clenching cases. It affects many people, from students to long-time professionals. The common thread in all of these patients is stress. They’re more stressed out at school, at work, and in their daily lives.
So, in this month of love, it is possible to look your best while avoiding sensitive teeth. Enjoy your evening out without the worry!
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