Do you have sensitive teeth?

Dr. Sharon Robinson

Simple Steps to Manage Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity — also known as dentin hypersensitivity — affects the tooth or exposed root surfaces. The inside of your tooth is primarily made up of a material called dentin, which contains microscopic tubules filled with tiny nerve endings. A hard outer layer of enamel protects the dentin within the crown portion of your tooth, and the dentin extending down to the root of your tooth is protected by a layer of cementum. Dentin hypersensitivity or nerve irritation occurs whenever dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum, exposing the nerve endings to hot, cold, acidic or sticky foods. Tooth sensitivity affects up to 57 percent of the population.

Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth can be caused by the following dental issues:

  • Grinding your teeth at night.
  • Post dental treatment sensitivity – which is common, but temporary, especially with procedures such as crowns, fillings and tooth bleaching.

Most common causes of sensitive teeth 


Tooth enamel can be worn down from using a hard toothbrush, and using a hard grip while brushing aggressively. Also, the enamel is vulnerable to brushing shortly after consuming highly acidic foods and beverages, when the enamel is softened and more vulnerable. Brushing too vigorously can also cause receding gums, causing further exposure of the dentine.

Gum Disease

Sensitive teeth can be a major symptom of gum disease (also known as gingivitis). Gum disease causes inflamed and sore gum, which can lead to receding gums, leave dentine exposed. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which damages the tissues and bone that support the teeth.

Teeth Grinding

If you grind your teeth when you sleep or during the day, or if you clench your teeth, you may be wearing down enamel and exposing the underlying dentine layer of your tooth.

Dental Decay

Without the maintenance of regular dental treatments, issues such as tooth decay, old, worn leaky fillings and broken teeth can lead to sensitive teeth, because these conditions expose the dentin of your tooth, making it vulnerable.

Simple Steps to Manage Sensitive Teeth 

Change your Brushing Game

You can improve sensitivity by simply tweaking your oral hygiene. Use a toothpaste specially formulated to treat the pain of sensitive teeth. Be sure not to brush too hard, and use a soft toothbrush, preferably one designed especially for sensitive teeth.

Tweak your Diet

To cut down on possible erosion, avoid acidic foods that can wear away tooth enamel. Food and beverages such as wine, vinegary salad dressings and soft drinks are major culprits.

Stop the Grind

Avoid grinding your teeth or clenching during the day. Ask your dentist about a mouth guard for night time use.

Keep up with Check-ups

A hardy mouth depends on consistent maintenance, catching structural issues in the tooth as early as possible. So be sure to tee your dentist for regular check-ups, dental care recommendations and advice for your sensitive teeth.


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