Sensitive Teeth: What They Mean and Treatment Options

Sensitive Teeth: What They Mean and Treatment Options

Sensitive Teeth: What They Mean and Treatment Options

Does it hurt to sip hot coffee or iced tea? Do your teeth tingle when you brush or floss? If you answered yes, you may have sensitive teeth. Luckily, you don’t have to drink lukewarm beverages for the rest of life. Keep reading to discover what sensitive teeth mean, potential causes and effective treatment options. 


The crowns of your teeth are protected by a layer of hard enamel. The underlying roots are protected by a layer of cementum. Beneath this is dentin, comprising small openings known as tubules. These tubules, or channels, come directly off the pulp or nerve of the tooth. When the dentin becomes exposed, discomfort and hypersensitivity can occur when you drink hot or cold beverages, breathe through your mouth or eat sour or sweet foods. 


There are many potential causes of tooth sensitivity. Some are as easy to fix as changing to a soft toothbrush from a medium to hard-bristled one or not whitening your teeth too frequently. Other causes may require more extensive treatment to correct. Here are some of the most common causes of sensitive teeth: 

Irregular Flossing

Did you know that 80% of sensitivity begins at the gum line? Caring for your gums is a critical, but often overlooked, part of your oral hygiene routine. Flossing prevents plaque build-up which can lead to gum disease, sore gums, receding gums and sensitive teeth.  

Gum Disease

Sensitive teeth develop when you have gum disease if the inflamed gum tissue is not protecting the roots of your teeth. Periodontal disease is an infection affecting the gums and bone that support your teeth. If it progresses, it can destroy the bone and other supporting tissues, causing gum recession. Sometimes, gums recede as a result of age. However, receding gums can be caused by chewing tobacco if used earlier in life. 

Damaged Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel usually begins to wear away as we age. It also may wear away from excessive high exposure to acidic foods or brushing too zealously with a hard-bristled toothbrush. When your tooth enamel becomes damaged, the tooth’s inner layer is exposed. As a result, the affected teeth become sensitive to pressure, heat, and cold.


The best treatment for your sensitive teeth will depend heavily on the root cause and severity of your pain. Once your dentist identifies or rules out the cause of your tooth pain, they may recommend: 

Surgical Gum Graft

When the root of your tooth loses gum tissue, a bit of gum tissue can be taken from somewhere else in your mouth and grafted to the affected side. This helps to protect the exposed roots and minimize sensitivity. 

Root Canal

Your dentist may recommend a root canal if your sensitive teeth cause extreme pain and other treatment methods, such as lifestyle changes, aren’t effective. This procedure treats problems in the dental pulp. While this may sound like an extensive treatment, it is the most effective technique for eliminating pain from sensitive teeth. 


Sometimes, your dentist can treat an exposed root surface by applying bonding resin. 


Your dentist may reduce pain from sensitive teeth by using fluoride to strengthen your tooth enamel. In some cases, you may be prescribed fluoride to apply at home with a custom tray. 


Are you ready to treat your sensitive teeth once and for all? At Ideal Dental, we believe that a visit to the dentist should be pleasant, stress-free, quick and convenient. We are proud to offer affordable, experienced, friendly dental care close to your home or office. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and discover how we can help you treat your sensitive teeth.