Understanding the Various Causes and Treatment for Tooth Sensitivity

Understanding the Various Causes and Treatment for Tooth Sensitivity

Regular activities such as brushing and consuming hot or cold drinks may be stressful for people with sensitive teeth. This dental problem affects at least 40 million adults in the United States. Most people with tooth sensitivity live in constant fear of the sudden sharp pain that occurs when there is contact between stimuli and the tooth’s exposed nerve endings. No particular age group has a higher risk as both children and adults may develop tooth sensitivity. Fortunately, you can get rid of the discomfort and pain with the help of your specialist at Madison Family Dental Group.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the outermost layer part of your teeth – enamel, wears off, exposing the dentin. The dentin is the inner layer of your tooth that contains nerve endings. The different factors that may contribute to tooth sensitivity include:

Gum recession

This is common for individuals with severe periodontal disease, which may result in gum disease or gingivitis. When gums pull away from teeth, your tooth roots get exposed, and you may experience tooth sensitivity.

Brushing with much force

Brushing your teeth twice a day is a healthy oral hygiene practice that you should observe. However, avoid using force while brushing as this may wear out the enamel and expose the dentin layer of your tooth. You should gently clean your teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid having sensitive teeth.

Long-term use of mouthwash

Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash helps kill bacteria and germs in your tooth crevices, which usual cleaning techniques like brushing and flossing may not be effective. Over-the-counter mouthwashes that contain acids may gradually wear out your teeth’ enamel and expose the dentin. Since you may not eliminate the use of a mouthwash, your specialist may recommend using a neutral fluoride mouthwash.

Dental procedures

Dental procedures such as professional cleaning to remove tartar may result in tooth sensitivity as the process involves removing small amounts of enamel. Chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide that your specialist uses during teeth whitening may also temporarily irritate the teeth and cause sensitivity.

Treatment for tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity will always recur unless your dentist addresses the root cause for your problems. An examination may help identify dental problems such as cavities and tooth decay, causing tooth sensitivity. Your specialist may recommend treating these conditions before resolving sensitivity. Below are the treatments your dentist may recommend to minimize tooth sensitivity.

Desensitizing toothpaste

There are different brands of desensitizing toothpaste available over-the-counter. You may need to try out several of these toothpastes before establishing the one that works for you. The pain may improve after several applications of desensitizing toothpaste.

Surgical gum graft

A surgical gum graft may benefit patients with tooth sensitivity caused by gum recession. This procedure involves obtaining gum tissue from a different place in your mouth and attaching it to the area with gum loss.


Your dentist may send you home with prescribed fluoride applied via a custom tray. Fluoride strengthens your tooth enamel and reduces pain caused by tooth sensitivity.

If you have further questions about tooth sensitivity, visit your trusted dentist today. 

Paul Petersen