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Do you have sensitive teeth?


Common tooth sensitivity – also referred to as dentin hypersensitivity – is a fairly frequent problem. It can be triggered by hot or cold temperatures, sweet or acidic foods and beverages, and in more extreme cases even by mouth breathing. Tooth sensitivity is characterized by sharp, sudden and deep pain of the teeth. If you suffer from tooth sensitivity see us for an assessment. There is treatment available and we will differentiate between other causes of tooth sensitivity such as tooth decay or dental nerve problems.


Tooth sensitivity usually occurs when the protective enamel on the tooth wears away or when receding gums or periodontal disease expose the dentin at the roots. The exposed dentin can be hyper-sensitive because temperature changes and certain food and beverages are able to reach the nerve in the tooth.

This sensitivity problem can also be caused by:

  • Brushing too hard. Over time, brushing aggressively or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can cause gums to recede and wear down enamel.
  • Plaque buildup. Plaque bacteria release acids that cause enamel to wear away and damage teeth. It is also a factor in periodontal disease that can cause recession.
  • Teeth grinding. Chronic clenching and grinding teeth may wear down enamel and expose underlying dentin.
  • Cracked teeth. Chipped or broken teeth may become quite painful.
  • Acidic food. Excessive consumption of food or drink with high acid content.
  • Tooth bleaching/whitening products – Bleaching products can cause sensitivity which is usually transient. Some whitening tooth pastes are very abrasive.
  • Bad habits. Chewing on objects (e.g., pens) can wear away teeth.
  • Medical conditions. For example, bulimia and acid reflux (GERD) can cause acid to collect in the mouth and erode enamel.

Dealing with the problem before it occurs is the best method. There are simple steps to take to prevent tooth sensitivity:
  • Maintain good oral hygiene. Follow proper brushing and flossing techniques to thoroughly clean all parts of teeth and mouth.
  • Use a soft bristled toothbrush. Brush gently and thoroughly around the gum line twice a day for at least two minutes. Floss or clean between teeth daily.
  • Watch food consumption. An excessive diet of highly acidic food and drink can gradually damage the tooth and its root.
  • Wait about one half hour after an acidic snack to brush your teeth.
  • Use fluoridated dental products. Ask your dental hygienist what they recommend.
  • Avoid grinding and clenching teeth. If it’s a chronic problem, ask your dentist about getting a custom-made mouth guard.
  • Visit a dental hygienist regularly. Have your teeth cleaned professionally to remove plaque and calculus buildup.

In many cases using a commercially available desensitizing tooth paste will control the discomfort. If not a more robust, in office desensitization may be effective.

Dental bonding – Bonding is a more permanent fix where an insulating layer of tooth-colored composite resin is applied to exposed, sensitive roots.

Surgical gum graft: This procedure can protect the root and reduce sensitivity if the gum tissue has eroded from the root.

Root canal treatment is often the last-resort treatment for intractable, severe tooth sensitivity that has not been helped by other methods.

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