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Dental Conditions > Sensitive Teeth

With sensitive teeth, it can be difficult to enjoy the foods and drinks you love, such as ice cream or hot beverages.

Fortunately, a variety of treatments exist for tooth sensitivity. Depending on the cause, your dentist can recommend a solution for you.

Extreme Hot and Cold

If you experience sudden discomfort when you consume something very hot or cold, you may have sensitive teeth.

 

Acidic or Sweet Foods and Drinks

An exposed root, enamel erosion, or cavity can also make you more sensitive to things that are very sweet or acidic.

 

Breathing Cold Air

For some patients with sensitive teeth, even taking a deep breath during cold weather can cause significant pain.

Teeth become sensitive when the inner layer, known as dentin, is exposed. There are many different ways that dentin can become exposed, including decay and gum recession.

Using an abrasive toothpaste or other products that are hard on your enamel can increase your chances of developing dental sensitivity. 

Some studies have also found that individuals who are under stress or have obsessive-compulsive symptoms are more likely to have sensitive teeth.

Tooth Decay

A cavity or decay under the surface can cause pain and make your tooth more sensitive to temperature changes.

 

Damaged Teeth

A crack or fracture in a tooth may not constantly cause pain, but instead, react to certain foods or drinks.

 

Older Fillings

Fillings protect areas of teeth which have been damaged. When they become worn, the nerves inside of teeth may be exposed to external elements, leading to sensitivity.

 

Worn Enamel

When enamel becomes too thin to protect the nerves within teeth, dentin hypersensitivity can result.

 

Exposed Roots

If gum recession or other issues have left your roots exposed, it can cause dental sensitivity.

 

Gum Disease

Inflammation in the gums can make teeth more sensitive and cause gums to recede, leaving the roots exposed.

The first step toward finding relief from sensitive teeth is to speak with your dentist. It is a good idea to keep track of what causes your symptoms and what normally makes them better for a period of time leading up to your appointment.

Your doctor will conduct an exam to determine the underlying cause of sensitivity. The best treatment option for you will depend on the cause of your symptoms.

Use Gentle Brushing Techniques

Placing too much force on your teeth while you brush can damage the enamel. Avoid brushing side-to-side right at the gum line. Instead, use a soft-bristled brush and hold it at a 45-degree angle to your gum line while brushing.

 

Avoid Eating or Drinking Acidic Products

Certain foods and drinks, such as soda, sticky candy, and high-sugar carbs, are more likely to cause damage to your enamel. Change up your snacking habits to include foods such as fruits and veggies high in fiber, cheese, and plain yogurt. 

 

Treat Clenching or Grinding

When left untreated, clenching or grinding your teeth can wear away at enamel. For some patients, reducing stress can stop the issue. However, you may need another treatment for bruxism, such as a mouth guard or orthodontic adjustment.

For minor sensitivity, switching to a desensitizing toothpaste can help block pain and stop symptoms. There are many over-the-counter products available, so it is a good idea to discuss your options with a dentist before choosing one.

It is important to keep in mind that desensitizing toothpaste cannot treat the underlying cause of sensitivity and may not be effective for more severe issues.

Fluoride Treatment
Professional treatments can strengthen tooth enamel, protecting the dentin.

Dental Filling
A filling can repair areas of mild to moderate damage, improving symptoms.

Restorations
For extensive damage, your dentist may recommend an inlay, onlay, or dental crown.

Gum Treatments
For gum recession, you may need treatment such as a gum graft to restore your health.

Root Canal Therapy
If sensitivity is severe and persists, you may have an infection within the root.