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Medically reviewed by Dr Jerry Jesin — By Andrea Galick

Sensitive Teeth: What to do?

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What Do You Do If You Have Sensitive Teeth?

Having sensitive teeth can be a painful and uncomfortable experience, and can affect your day-to-day comfort and confidence in your smile in a major way. That’s why it’s important to understand just what exactly causes this condition, as well as the available treatments out there that exist for you to remedy your oral health.

The most common symptom of sensitive teeth is sharp pain when consuming hot or cold foods or drinks. In addition, sensitivity may occur while brushing your teeth, or even after exposure to air or sweet substances. While the underlying cause of tooth sensitivity varies from person to person, enamel wear, exposed dentin tubules, gum recession, and dental erosion are all possible factors that most often lead to increased tooth sensitivity.

There are various treatment options that exist for people who suffer from sensitive teeth, including avoiding acidic foods and beverages in order to reduce further damage to the enamel layer, using special fluoridated desensitizing toothpaste to help block nerve receptors in the gums and mouth tissues, applying fluoride varnish professionally at regular intervals, and undergoing restorative procedures, such as crowns or fillings. All these methods can go a long way to offer you effective relief if you are struggling with sensitive teeth.

Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Many of us have experienced that uncomfortable sensation when consuming something hot or cold - an issue which can be a sign of sensitive teeth. However, what exactly is it that is causing this bothersome feeling?

Teeth sensitivity after cleaning could be the result of several causes and triggers. The most common cause for tooth sensitivity is receding gums which expose the root surfaces of the teeth, making them more vulnerable to outside forces such as extreme temperatures or acidic substances found in food. Another possible trigger is enamel erosion due to excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks, leading to nerve exposure on the surface of your teeth.

Additionally, vigorous brushing with a hard-bristled brush might also contribute to dental sensitivity by wearing down your tooth enamel, while certain oral health treatments, such as whitening products, may also further aggravate this condition.

Tooth Sensitivity Prevention

It is quite common to experience a twinge of pain in your mouth or teeth every now and then. However, once this becomes a common experience, you may be suffering from increased, or even chronic, tooth sensitivity.

Protecting sensitive teeth is essential for those struggling with tooth pain. Fortunately, there are several preventative steps that can be taken in order to minimize discomfort from sensitive teeth:

  1. Use toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth,
  2. Consider using a soft-bristled brush when brushing your teeth, and
  3. See your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.

Toothpaste for sensitive teeth usually contains compounds such as strontium chloride or potassium nitrate, which act as numbing agents on the nerve endings within a tooth's dentin layer. This type of toothpaste acts as an occlusive agent by forming a protective barrier over the exposed dentin layers of your teeth, preventing irritants like food, acids, and sugars from reaching them directly.

Soft-bristled brushes can also help reduce damage to your tooth enamel caused by aggressive brushing, while regular dental visits will ensure you can maintain an optimal standard of oral health through professional cleaning and detection of any potential issues before they become serious problems.

Tooth Sensitivity Treatment

When it comes to tooth sensitivity treatment, there are a variety of options available out there that can make a difference to your oral health, depending on the cause and degree of your discomfort.

In some cases, a dentist will recommend over-the-counter products, such as desensitizing toothpaste or gels that can be applied directly to your teeth. For more severe cases, professional treatments, such as fluoride varnish applications, may also be recommended.

Additionally, since certain types of teeth whitening can lead to further sensitivity in sensitive teeth, dentists will often advise against using these procedures for those with existing tooth sensitivities.

In order to reduce the risk of developing tooth sensitivity when undergoing a teeth whitening procedure, it’s important for you to first speak with your dentist or dental practitioner about customized solutions specially tailored to your oral health needs. Furthermore, adequate hydration is important for all people, but especially so for those with sensitive teeth, as drinking plenty of water can help you prevent dehydration, which contributes to tooth hypersensitivity.

Teeth Whitening and Sensitivity

When considering a teeth whitening procedure, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects that this procedure could have on your teeth - many people may experience an increase in sensitivity after bleaching their teeth. This increase can vary from person to person, and depends largely on the type of toothpaste you use, as well as other factors, such as your diet and lifestyle habits.

Sensitive teeth after whitening is an issue often caused by dehydration or inflammation of the nerve endings near the dentin layer of your teeth. Therefore, to reduce this discomfort, make sure to use desensitizing products that contain fluoride and potassium nitrate, which will help block pain signals from reaching your brain.

Additionally, using a soft-bristled brush when brushing your teeth will help you avoid further irritation to sensitive areas. People with severe sensitivities may also need to consult their dentist before undergoing any dental treatment, including teeth whitening procedures.

All in all, managing sensitive teeth requires an understanding of your oral health, as well as both prevention and treatment measures. If you’re struggling with increased tooth sensitivity, it’s important to take action early on before any symptoms become severe, including making lifestyle changes, practicing proper oral hygiene habits, and using appropriate products for treating sensitivities. Putting these strategies into practice will help you ensure your smile can remain healthy, strong, and beautiful, regardless of your underlying tooth sensitivity level.

At North York Smile Centre, we understand just how frustrating dealing with sensitive teeth can be – that’s why our team of professional dentists is here to help you tackle your tooth sensitivity with comfort and ease. Reach out to us today to schedule your consultation and get started on your dental health journey!

Andrea Galick

Andrea Galick is an accomplished Dental Hygienist (RDH) with a passion for helping patients achieve optimal oral health. Andrea has built a reputation as a caring and skilled practitioner who puts her patients at ease and provides individualized care that meets their unique needs.


North York Smile Centre
5 Park Home Ave #130,
North York,
ON M2N 6L4