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Tooth Sensitivity 101

Posted by Lisa Edwards on

 Tooth Sensitivity from teeth grinding

If just looking at that orange popsicle sends stabs of pain to your teeth, chances are you are experiencing tooth sensitivity. It can happen when you sip a hot drink or bite into a cold dessert. And the pain can be so severe it goes right down to your toes.

Believe it or not, the pain from very cold food and beverages is the most common form of tooth sensitivity and is typically not alarming to dentists. If the pain is short-lived, you likely don’t have a reason to be concerned as the pain is easily treatable .

Causes of tooth sensitivity can include:

  • Brushing teeth too hard
  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Fractured teeth
  • Worn fillings
  • Gum recession
  • Gum disease
  • Teeth Grinding
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Exposed tooth root

All healthy teeth have a layer of enamel protects each tooth above the gumline. Beneath the gumline is a layer called cementum which protects the tooth root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin.

Tooth sensitivity develops when the less dense Dentin is exposed. Dentin has microscopic nerve endings which are very painfully sensitive to hot, cold and sugar.

Treatments of tooth sensitivity include:

  • A night grinding guard- A good night guard will protect your teeth from fracture, gum recession and worn enamel.
  • Desensitizing toothpaste-This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Fluoride gel- Typically prescribed by a dentist, gel fluoride works to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the painful sensations from exposed dentin.
  • A crown, inlay or bonding-. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
  • Root canal-. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.


Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity.