Dental Patient Education


Sensitive Teeth


Sensitive Teeth

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.

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.


What causes Sensitive Teeth?

In healthy teeth, porous tissue called dentin is protected by your gums and your teeth's hard enamel shell. Microscopic holes in the dentin, called tubules, connect back to the nerve triggering pain when irritated by certain foods and beverages. Dentin can be exposed by:

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


Depending on the diagnosis, your dentist may recommend one or more of the following treatments to relieve the symptoms of sensitive teeth:

  • A fluoride varnish, such as Duraphat, that can be applied by a dental professional
  • A fluoride rinse or gel for sensitive teeth, prescribed by your dentist, for home use
  • A soft-bristle or extra soft-bristle toothbrush to protect gums.
  • A special toothpaste for sensitive teeth that can either block access to the nerve or insulate the nerve itself. A sensitivity toothpaste usually eases pain in about two to four weeks.

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