How to Treat Sensitive Teeth

A woman grimaces as her sensitive teeth ache after drinking coffee, just before calling Summit Family and Cosmetic Dentistry for treatment.

Do you ever experience tooth pain when indulging in a bowl of ice cream or maybe even your morning coffee? In the dental world, we call this “sensitive teeth.”

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that tooth sensitivity is no laughing matter. It’s uncomfortable and frustrating when all you want to do is enjoy your favorite foods and drinks without feeling pain.

There’s no need to worry, though. Summit Family and Cosmetic Dentistry is here to help. Below, we’ll provide some information on the causes of tooth sensitivity as well as some helpful tips on treating it from the comfort of your home.

How to Treat Sensitive Teeth

You’ve heard of enamel (the outside layer of the teeth). It shields your teeth while the cementum defends the root, and dentin safeguards the nerves within your teeth.

Over time, the layer of protection over the dentin can deteriorate, which causes certain foods and temperatures to trigger your nerves. That’s what leads to discomfort, such as when you’re enjoying that ice cream or latte. Fortunately, even the most extreme cases of sensitive teeth are generally treatable.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are multiple causes of sensitive teeth. These include but are not limited to:

  • Tooth Decay: This indicates that there’s some enamel destruction from acid produced by bacteria. The condition is linked to cavities.
  • Cracked Teeth: If any of your teeth are split, it can worsen whenever you apply pressure. The crack may grow larger with every bite, increasing the chances of bacteria reaching your nerve endings, which makes your teeth more sensitive.
  • Enamel Erosion: While enamel is as strong as can be, it’s prone to wear down over time, specifically due to your diet. Sweets, soda, and fruit are some of the most common culprits behind enamel erosion.
  • Receding Gum Lines: This is when the dentine (features small holes that go to the nerves) within your teeth opens up, making your nerves more sensitive than usual. It might be challenging to recognize at first. The best way to catch it is to look for redness or bleeding in the gum area when brushing your teeth.
  • Gum Disease: When bacteria consolidates on your teeth due to poor dental health habits, more often than not, you’re likely to experience symptoms of gum disease. Tooth sensitivity is a common symptom, in addition to tender gums and discomfort while chewing.
  • Exposed Roots: This tends to happen if you brush your teeth too often. The more pressure you put onto your teeth, the more likely you are to damage the parts of your teeth that protect the roots.

Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth

Hot or cold sensitivity is common in those with sensitive teeth. You may experience one of these symptoms throughout your mouth or in a single tooth. It’s important to note that tooth sensitivity doesn’t always mean that all your teeth are affected, according to Sensodyne.

Sensitive teeth pain might also occur after consuming desserts or sour foods. Typically, any food with high amounts of sugar or acid contributes to sensitivity because the acid provides a suitable environment for bacteria. This bacteria gets into the little crevices of your teeth and makes its way to the sensitive nerves on the inside.

Bad breath and gum irritation are also common symptoms of those with sensitive teeth. Be sure to keep a record of any signs of sensitivity or dental changes you’re experiencing so that you can monitor their progression and discuss them with your dentist at your next appointment.

Home Care for Sensitive Teeth

Treating your tooth sensitivity at home is 100 percent possible. First, you’ll want to switch out your toothbrush if you’re using anything other than a soft toothbrush.

Even medium toothbrushes can be hard on your teeth and gums, exacerbating your tooth sensitivity. Always use a gentle hand when brushing to clean your teeth without making your condition worse.

Next, consider toothpaste for sensitive teeth. It coats your teeth, exposed roots, and gums when you brush, helping to alleviate pain. There are various brands available at your local drugstore. Just be sure to only select the brands that are ADA approved to ensure you’re getting a top-quality, safe product.

In addition to sensitive toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, opt for a mouthguard to protect your teeth while you sleep if you grind them. This can alleviate some pressure off your teeth, which can protect them from damage and reduce the chances of erosion and, thus, nerve-ending exposure.

When to Get Professional Care for Your Sensitive Teeth

We recommend seeing a dentist if your teeth are still painful after a few weeks of treating them at home. Be sure to mention any symptoms to your dentist, along with how long they’ve been happening. That will give your dentist a good idea of how they can help alleviate the pain going forward.

They may also inspect your mouth to get a closer look at the cause of the pain and administer a topical medication or coat the teeth with fluoride for extra protection if needed. If your sensitivity is severe, and nothing seems to be helping, your dentist can look at other options (e.g., a filling or root canal).


Sensitive teeth may make you feel helpless at times, but you can treat them easily at home with just a few products from your local drugstore. You can also consult a dentist for sensitive teeth treatment if your situation is more severe or if you’ve had no pain relief after trying consistently at home for a few weeks.

Whatever the cause of your tooth sensitivity, Summit Family and Cosmetic Dentistry is here to assist. Contact our office today to book a dentist appointment.