Sensitive Teeth – Symptoms, Causes, Prevention & Treatment

What is Tooth Sensitivity?

Sensitive teeth, also known as dentine hypersensitivity, affects 57% of the population and occurs when tooth enamel wears away or the gums recede. This exposes the underlying surface, dentine, and reduces protection of the nerve. Dentine contains microscopic tubules that, when exposed, allow stimuli, such as hot or cold foods, to reach the tooth nerves, triggering pain.


Those with sensitive teeth often experience pain when drinking or eating hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks or breathing in cold air. This pain can range from a small twinge to severe discomfort, but most suffer a short, sharp, and sudden shooting pain in their tooth or many teeth when exposing teeth to certain stimuli. The pain often comes and goes and can be a temporary or chronic issue.


There can be many causes of sensitive teeth:

  • Aggressive brushing of teeth with a hard toothbrush causes abrasion and wears the tooth’s enamel, exposing the dentine below.
  • Consuming acidic foods and drinks such as fruit juices erodes and dissolves the tooth surface enamel and exposes dentine.
  • Gum recession exposes the dentine as the gums pull away from the teeth. Gums can recede with age, and recession can also be a result of gum disease.
  • Grinding your teeth can wear away the enamel and expose the dentine.
  • Cavities, cracked teeth, and tooth decay can all leave your dentine or root exposed to sensitivity.
  • Health conditions including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and bulimia can erode enamel due to excess acid in the mouth.


You can prevent sensitivity by brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a sensitivity toothpaste and flossing once a day. Be careful not to brush too hard and use a medium toothbrush to prevent wearing away your enamel. This will reduce your chances of sensitivity whilst keeping your teeth clean to prevent cavities, receding gums, and periodontal disease.

You should also avoid consuming highly acidic foods and drinks and try to stop grinding your teeth as this will prevent the erosion of your enamel.


You can treat tooth sensitivity at home with a low abrasion, high fluoride sensitivity toothpaste which will desensitise the area and build up protection around the exposed root to reduce sensitivity and ease pain.

Your dentist can also carry out more advanced treatments to reduce sensitivity such as applying a specialist fluoride varnish, rinse, or gel onto your teeth or sealing and covering the exposed area.

Treatment will also depend on the cause of the sensitivity. If caused by a crack, your dentist can fill the tooth or replace the crown. If your sensitivity is a result of receding gums caused by gum disease, your dentist may perform periodontal therapy. If the pain is due to grinding your teeth, your dentist may fit you with a mouthguard to prevent further tooth erosion.

Are You Experiencing Sensitive Teeth?

If you are experiencing the above symptoms and are suffering from sensitive teeth, contact Bright & White Dental Spa or book an appointment now. Our dentists will assess your teeth to determine the cause of your sensitivity, decide the best course of treatment, and examine whether your sensitivity is a symptom of a more serious problem. We will treat your sensitivity and work towards eradicating your pain.

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