Feeling A Tad Sensitive?

What Causes Sensitive Teeth, And How To Treat It

by Dr. Edmond Suh // July - August - September 2021

There isn’t a pain much more annoying and distracting than the kind that comes with a sensitive tooth. Whether your teeth are chronically sensitive or you have an occasional twang of sharp pain, this discomfort can put a damper on your day. Sensitive teeth make it difficult to perform certain necessary activities, like eating and drinking or brushing your teeth. The worst part is that you can’t always predict when doing one of these things is going to kick the nerves into hyperspace and cause you to hurt. The sharp pain may only be temporary, but it’s not fun while it lasts. Knowing what causes sensitive teeth can help you prevent some of the pain, but until you get to the “root” of the problem, it’ll keep happening.

Most sensitive teeth causes can be narrowed down to dental issues like dentin hypersensitivity, worn enamel, or an exposed root in your tooth. In some cases, it might be more complex. Cavities, chipped and cracked teeth, gum disease, and old fillings are other common reasons for sensitive teeth.

Preventing Sensitive Teeth Pain

Of course, you want to get to the bottom of the issue and put a stop to whatever is causing it. But right now, you probably just want to know if there’s a sensitive teeth remedy. The best advice you can follow is to visit your dentist, who can quickly figure out why your teeth are causing you pain. In the meantime, these tips can help you prevent the pain from messing with your day:
– Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush, and use gentle, circular motions instead of harsh scrubbing.
– Use a fluoride toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.
– Floss everyday to prevent buildup of bacteria and plaque.
– Use a mouthguard if you are prone to teeth grinding. This behavior erodes away the enamel and can even fracture a tooth.
– Sensitive teeth are irritated by food and drink. Avoid acidic beverages or foods if your teeth have been acting up.
– Teeth are sensitive to sugar, no matter how healthy they are. Limit your sugar intake in beverages and food. Brush well or rinse your mouth with water to get rid of the sugar after you eat.
– Cold items are common culprits of pain, so take care if you plan on enjoying these. If you drink anything that is a known irritant, use a straw to avoid as much contact with your teeth as possible.

Fixing Sensitive Teeth

At your dental appointment, you’ll learn the actual cause of your sensitivity. Your dentist will work with you to come up with a treatment plan. Depending on the reason for your sensitive teeth, you may have one or more of these treatments suggested to you:
– A different toothpaste: Your dentist may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste, which is designed to gradually block the pain that comes with sensitive teeth.
– Fluoride treatments: Professional fluoride products can be applied to the sensitive parts of the teeth to strengthen their enamel and reduce pain at the same time. You might even be prescribed fluoride treatments to use at home.
– Bonding procedures: If the cause is an exposed root surface, you’ll need more than a toothpaste or fluoride treatment to fix it. Your dentist might recommend bonding or desensitizing, a simple procedure that uses a local anesthetic to numb the area, followed by a bonded resin applied to the exposed root to take away the sensitivity.
– A gum graft: This is a more intensive procedure for complicated issues. When a tooth root loses gum tissue, a minor surgical graft can be performed. The gum tissue is removed from a healthy area of the mouth and is attached to the problem site. You still have enough gum in the healthy area to keep your teeth there safe, but now the exposed roots from the missing tissue are covered up and won’t cause you pain.
– A root canal: In a root canal, an anesthetic is given and your dentist will surgically remove the infected pulp inside your tooth, with the goal to save it. A root canal is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in dentistry, with excellent results. If you’re concerned about the pain, today’s anesthetics make this a relatively easy procedure. Compared with living with your infected or damaged tooth, the quick recovery of a root canal is much preferred.


Teeth pain is rarely a situation where the “If I ignore it, it will go away” way of thinking works. There’s likely an underlying problem and ignoring it means it is going to get worse, not better. The sooner you get treated, the better your chances of having a quick and relatively painless treatment. So before a simple problem turns into one that requires a complicated and painful fix, schedule an appointment with your dentist. He or she will get to the “root” of your sensitive teeth situation and help you find a solution to get rid of the pain fast.

Dr. Edmond Suh

Owner of Supremia Dentistry, located at 1711 S. Main St. in Wake Forest.