Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive Teeth: Overview

If you occasionally experience a sudden flash of pain, or a mild tingly feeling when you bite into sweet or sour foods, or drink hot or cold beverages, you may have sensitive teeth.

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Causes and Development

In healthy teeth, porous tissue called dentin is protected by your gums and your teeth's hard enamel shell.  When this protection is lost, microscopic holes in the dentin called tubules, allow heat, cold and other irritants to be transmitted back to the tooth nerve triggering pain.  Dentin can be exposed by:

  • Receding gums caused by improper brushing or gum disease
  • Fractured or chipped teeth
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth (Bruxism).

Signs and Symptoms

Pain from sensitive teeth is not always constant; it can come and go.  Constant pain could be a sign of a more serious problem.  It is still important, however, to discuss your symptoms with your dentist to determine the cause and proper treatment.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Sensitive Teeth:

Symptoms - Head - Mouth/Oral

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Risk factors for Sensitive Teeth:

Dental / Oral

Bruxism (Clenching/Grinding Teeth)

Many people are unaware that they clench or grind their teeth while asleep.  Signs can include sensitive or even chipped teeth.

Environment / Toxicity

Recommendations for Sensitive Teeth:


Personal Hygiene Changes

Depending on the diagnosis, your dentist may recommend various changes to your dental hygiene routine, such as: a softer-bristled toothbrush; a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth that can either block access to the nerve or make the nerve itself less sensitive; a fluoride rinse or gel for sensitive teeth.  A sensitivity-protection toothpaste usually takes several weeks to ease pain.  Follow the instructions of your dental professional on the regular use of sensitivity protection toothpaste to keep pain from returning.


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