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Tooth sensitivity is tooth discomfort in one or more teeth that is triggered by hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods and drinks, or even by breathing cold air. The pain can be sharp, sudden, and shoot deep into the nerve endings of your teeth.

Sensitive teeth is a very common issue for many adults in America. Sensitive teeth occur when the layer under the enamel (the dentin), or cementum (root area) of your teeth becomes exposed as a result of receding gum tissue. These unprotected surfaces, which are not covered by hard protective enamel, contain thousands of tiny tubules leading to the tooth’s nerve center (also called the pulp). These dentinal tubules allow the hot, cold, or sweet food to reach the nerve in your tooth, which results in the pain you feel.

Sensitive Teeth Home Remedies

If you develop tooth sensitivity in one or more teeth, first see your dentist for an examination to determine the cause. Then, if your sensitivity is caused by simple enamel abrasion or by gum recession, try the following home remedies for relief:

-Desensitizing Toothpaste. Unfortunately, tooth sensitivity over a wide area due to enamel abrasion or recession at the gum line usually cannot always be treated with dental fillings. Instead, it may be recommended that you try brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste. These toothpastes are available at your local drug store. These toothpastes contain ingredients that reduce tooth sensitivity by filling in the tubules in the dentin. Another good tip is to put some of the toothpaste on your finger and spread it over the sensitive spots in your mouth before you go to bed. You can spit out excess but do not rinse otherwise you will wash it off. The tooth sensitivity should be reduced over the course of a few weeks. A good toothpaste for sensitivity is Colgate sensitive Pro-relief.

-Fluoride Rinse. Stannous Fluoride rinses can help decrease sensitivity, especially for people plagued with decay issues. There are certain instances where patients need a stronger fluoride rinse than available at the local drugstore. During some periodontal disease treatment, teeth can become more sensitive than usual until the gum tissue heals. Dentists will then prescribe a higher concentration fluoride rinse to use.

-Maintain Good Dental Hygiene. Keep your teeth clean through brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Plaque, the white substance that forms on and around teeth, produces an acid that irritates teeth, especially if your teeth are naturally sensitive. It is recommended that you brush your teeth at least twice a day (preferably after eating and definitely before bed) and flossing at least once per day.

-Use a Soft Bristled Toothbrush or a Mechanical Toothbrush. Using a tooth brush that is too hard or being too aggressive while brushing can actually damage your teeth’s enamel. When the gum line recedes, the exposed dentin along the root becomes even more vulnerable to abrasion. Using a brush with soft bristles along with a gentle touch works far better in the long run. A good option is the Rotadent electric toothbrush. The Rotadent has very soft bristles and the action of the brush does all work effectively cleaning your teeth without doing any unnecessary harm.

-Decrease Acids in Your Diet. Carbonated beverages, citrus fruits, and vinegar can increase sensitivity. If you combine acids with sugar as in sour gummies, you can cause yourself hours of aching teeth.

-Be Careful of Temperature. Extreme hot or cold should be limited. If cold, use a straw. If too hot, let it cool down a bit before consumption. Never follow one temperature extreme with the other. Drinking hot coffee after ice cream is sure to increase your sensitivity dramatically.

Sensitive Teeth Conclusion

These at home remedies are to be utilized after seeing your dentist to get a full evaluation as to why your teeth are sensitive. Figuring that out should always be the first step to ensure the sensitivity is not from a tooth fracture or tooth decay. The remedies above will help resolve limited tooth sensitivity so it is not as big an issue for you and you can resume eating and drinking your favorite items.

Is the sipping of hot coffee or the eating of cold ice cream sometimes a painful experience for you? If your answer is YES, you may have a common problem called sensitive teeth.

Tooth sensitivity is tooth or teeth discomfort that is provoked by hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks, or breathing in cold air. The pain can be sudden, sharp, and shoot deep into the nerve endings of your teeth.

There are two very different types of sensitivity:

Dentinal Sensitivity. This occurs when the middle layer (dentin) of a tooth is exposed to the outside. Dentin is usually covered by enamel above the gum line and by cementum (bone like connective tissue covering the root of a tooth) below the gum line. There are tiny openings called tubules in the dentin. Inside each tubule there is a nerve branch that comes from the tooth’s pulp (the nerve center of the tooth). When the dentin is exposed, these nerve branches can be affected by hot, cold, or certain foods. This causes tooth sensitivity.

When the outer protective layers of enamel or cementum wear away the dentin becomes exposed to the outside. This can affect one tooth or multiple teeth. Dentin exposure can be be caused in a variety of ways. These can include:

1. Aggressive brushing. The enamel layer can be worn away from brushing too hard.

2. Plaque build up. The presence of plaque on the root surfaces can cause sensitivity.

3. Tooth wear that occurs over time from chewing and brushing.

4. Untreated dental cavities.

5. Gingival recession. When the gums recede they expose the tooth’s roots. Receding gums often are caused by periodontal diseases or by aggressive brushing. Receded gums are very common and up to four fifths of people have gum recession by the time they are 65.

6. Periodontal surgery (gum surgery) that exposes the tooth’s roots.

7.  Tooth whitening.

8. Frequently eating acidic foods or liquids.

Pulpal sensitivity. This is a reaction of the tooth’s pulp. The pulp consists of a mass of blood vessels and nerves in the center of each tooth. Sensitivity of the pulpal tissue tends to affect only one tooth. Causes of this type of sensitivity can include:

1. Dental cavities or infection.

2. Placement of a recent filling.

3. Excessive pressure from grinding or clenching your teeth.

4. A cracked or broken tooth.

If you feel a sharp pain upon biting, you may have a broken or cracked filling. Pain when you release your bite is a sign of a cracked tooth.

sensitive teeth

toothpaste for sensitive teeth

You dentist will be able to diagnose the type of sensitivity you have. You want to rule out pulpal sensitivity as that requires more extensive treatment. If it is decided you have dentinal sensitivity then we will suggest a few options for you. The most conservative way is by use of a sensitivity toothpaste. I recommend Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief which I believe to be the best on the market today. I have found it to be the most effective in eliminating or limiting the symptoms of tooth sensitivity. Other options include use of a fluoride varnish or a bonded desensitizing agent that we would apply in office. As well as use of an at home fluoride rinse.

In severe cases of hypersensitivity that is persistent and cannot be treated by other ways, your dentist may recommend endodontic (root canal therapy) treatment to eliminate the sensitive teeth issue.

If you or a loved one is experiencing either type of sensitivity, the best approach would be to schedule a dental appointment for further evaluation.