What causes sensitive teeth?

If you suffer from sensitive teeth you know how frustrating it can be to live in fear every time you bite into an ice cream bar or drink a hot cup of coffee.

The good news is, there are solutions to the problem of sensitive teeth. Here are a few.

The most common causes of sensitive teeth

Exposed roots or worn enamel are the two biggest culprits when it comes to sensitive teeth. Other causes include a chipped or cracked tooth, deep cavities, a broken filling, gum disease or even aging. As we get older, our gums naturally recede, exposing the end of our tooth closer to the root.

Desensitizing toothpaste

Many patients experience a marked reduction in tooth sensitivity through the use of toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes help block the signal from your nerves to your brain and can begin working as fast as just a few applications.

Fluoride treatments

Strengthening your enamel through fluoride treatments takes time but as you harden the outside of your teeth, sensitivity can slowly fade over time.

Bonding resin

A special bonding resin can be used to repair small chips and cracks in the surface of your teeth.

Root canal

In some cases, tooth sensitivity results from serious decay that reaches the root of one or more teeth. A root canal may be the only way to save the tooth.


When a crack extends beyond the gumline, your tooth may need to be extracted and replaced with a dental implant by an oral surgeon.

Gum grafting

Exposed teeth due to the loss of gum tissue or recessed gums from aging can often be repaired with oral surgery. An oral surgeon can graft gum tissue from other areas inside your mouth to cover the exposed areas of affected teeth.

How to avoid getting sensitive teeth

Worn enamel can be caused by over-brushing. Either by using too much force or using a brush with bristles that are too stiff. Try switching to a soft bristled brush and be especially careful when brushing along the gumline as this is the area of the tooth most prone to sensitivity.

Avoid acidic foods, sugary drinks and candy. These foods eat away at your enamel over time. Eating fiber-rich fruit and vegetables can help protect your enamel and produce bacteria-fighting saliva.

If you have a problem with clenching your teeth, this excess stress could be contributing to the wearing of your enamel. A mouthguard can help stop excessive wear and tear from clenching.