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Sensitive Teeth: Avoid the Pain!

Do you enjoy a cool ice cream on a hot, sunny day? Or that first cup of coffee in the morning, or a brisk walk on a crisp autumn day. BUT the pain from sensitive teeth can hit you before the first lick, sip or breathe of fresh air goes down! 


Experiencing sharp pain or discomfort after eating or drinking something hot or cold, or being exposed to cold temperatures may indicate tooth sensitivity. 

Common Triggers are:

  • Hot and cold liquids
  • Cold Temperatures outside
  • Sweet Foods
  • Acidic Foods
  • Alcohol-based Mouthwashes
  • Brushing or Flossing Teeth
  • Rinsing teeth at the Dentist

Sensitivity may come and go inexplicably, and the intensity ranges from mild to intense. Note, you may also have a cavity, but regular dental appointments will solve that problem. 


Sensitive teeth often result when someone’s tooth enamel is worn. By nature, some have a thinner layer of enamel than others, making their teeth naturally more sensitive than others. 

Tooth Enamel can be worn down from:

  • Brushing too hard
  • Grinding your teeth at night
  • Eating and drinking acidic or sugary foods
  • Health conditions such as GERD(Gastroesophageal reflux)

 Gastroesophageal reflux(GERD), Gastroparesis and bulimia can also cause acid to wear down the enamel. 

Gum recession, tooth decay, broken, chipped or worn teeth/crowns often leave a tooth exposed, causing sensitivity. Sensitivity may be just in one tooth or several teeth. Sensitivity sometimes occurs after dental work like fillings, crowns or bleaching, which should subside after several days. 


First, ensure you are suffering from sensitive teeth versus another dental concern. See your dentist regularly to diagnose your discomfort, and make sure it is not from a cavity, cracked or chipped tooth, worn fillings or gum disease

 Next, once it is determined that your discomfort is, indeed sensitivity, your dentist might recommend:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. Choose toothpaste labelled specifically made for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes do not have irritating ingredients.  Desensitizing ingredients help block the discomfort from travelling to the tooth’s nerve. After several applications, desensitizing toothpaste should help block pain associated with sensitive teeth. 
  • Mouthwash. Changing to alcohol-free mouthwashes as these are less irritating. 
  • Brushing. Use softer toothbrushes and brush more gently at a 45-degree angle to your gum; soft toothbrushes will be labelled as such.
  • Fluoride.  To strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain, your dentist may apply fluoride to the sensitive areas of your teeth. 
  • Desensitizing or bonding. Exposed root surfaces can be treated by applying bonding resin to the sensitive root surfaces, sometimes with a local anaesthetic.
  • Surgical gum graft.  If your tooth root is exposed (has lost gum tissue),  healthy gum tissue can be removed usually from the roof of your mouth, and attached to the affected site. This technique can protect exposed roots and reduce sensitivity. 
  • Root canal. Your sensitive tooth may be caused by a dying root in your tooth, causing severe pain. With proper diagnosis, your dentist might recommend a root canal — a procedure used to treat problems in the tooth’s soft core (dental pulp). 
  • Mouth Guard. If you grind your teeth, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard to avoid fractured teeth.  


Continue to:

  • Brush teeth twice a day. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily. Be gentle with your strokes and avoid using abrasive toothpaste. 
  • Limit eating and drinking acidic foods such as carbonated drinks, citrus fruits and wine as they wear tooth enamel over time. 
  • Limit high-sugar carbs.
  • Use a straw for acidic drinks.
  • Drink water after eating/drinking acidic substances to balance acid levels in your mouth.
  • Eat fibre rich fruits and vegetables, cheese, milk and plain yogurt. 
  • If you grind your teeth, address your stress to alleviate the tension in your jaw and face. 
  • If bleaching your teeth, take a break. Sensitivity from bleaching is usually temporary. Feel free to chat with your dentist to see if the bleaching treatment is adversely affecting you. 

Finally, don’t lose hope! Tooth sensitivity is treated with the help of your dentist, effective oral hygiene products, and proper home care. Don’t hesitate to contact us at Kesteven Dental Care for your tooth sensitivity questions and needs. 

By Lori Kesteven