4 Oral Hygiene Tips to Fight Summertime Tooth Sensitivity

Dr. Amanda Sheehan of Oakland Family Dental shares preventative steps to avoid pain and discomfort
tooth sensitivity
Dr. Amanda Sheehan

After months of gray skies and brisk weather, lounging under the sun and indulging in ice-cold spiked drinks and frozen desserts is a well-deserved summer pastime for metro Detroiters. Yet, if you’re experiencing a frosty twinge of pain after biting into an ice cream sandwich or slurping down iced lemonade, it may be time to break out of vacation mode. “Sensitivity is not normal for most people,” says Dr. Amanda Sheehan, a dentist with Oakland Family Dental in Waterford. “Generally, it’s a sign of something more serious going on, and you want to make sure that’s evaluated by a dental professional.”

Determining the cause of the pain early on is extremely vital; it could be as simple as a cavity or as serious as a root canal — but an early diagnosis can prevent significant dental issues from developing. Of course, preventative measures can also be taken at home. For anyone who wants to maintain a healthy set of chompers this summer and into fall, consider following these four tooth sensitivity tips from Sheehan before you enjoy that next round of frozen margaritas.

Don’t skip summer dentist appointments

As we indulge in everything summer offers, our routines tend to slip. And, despite the increased consumption of acidic beverages and cold food, we let our oral health slip, too, Sheehan says. “There’s no time throughout the year that we get more cancellations because the weather’s good, because somebody wants to go up to their cabin for the weekend, and then they miss their cleaning.” But teeth cleanings are more than “just a cleaning,” they are oral hygiene maintenance. Dental issues are a cumulative problem, and after months of sugary drinks without cleaning, cavities are more likely to occur in the fall, she says.

Sip acidic drinks from a straw

“I’m going to be brutally honest; my favorite summer drink is sangria. That’s one of the most horrible things to drink because it’s got red wine, it’s got fruit juice in it, it’s got acid in it, and it’s cold. But what do I do? I make sure to use a straw.” Drinking through a straw helps to minimize the beverage’s contact with teeth, resulting in fewer stains, less pain due to teeth sensitivity, and reduces the risk for cavities. For the environmentally conscious, consider opting for a reusable glass straw.

Drink water immediately after consuming fruity beverages

Acid and sugar can stain and destroy teeth, so it’s important to wash it off with water right away, and then a good brush and floss. “I did an experiment and soaked some eggs, to simulate enamel, in some sangria, some lemonade, some iced coffee, and watched how it deteriorated and made a color change to the egg. That’s simulating not cleaning your teeth afterward.”

Use the correct toothpaste

For those who can’t see their dentist right away, Sheehan recommends brushing sensitive teeth with an American Dental Association endorsed toothpaste, which means the treatment claims printed on the box have been tested and proven in a third-party laboratory. “Look for one that contains fluoride, because that’s important. Fluoride is what creates the protective barrier around the tooth and not only protects you from sensitivity but also helps protect from cavities.”

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