Sensitive Teeth: Causes and treatments

By Sasha Curry

Blonde hair, black hair, red hair. Big feet, small feet, wide feet, narrow feet. 

You might be asking yourself, 'what does this have to do with teeth?' Well, just like our hair and our feet, teeth come in all different shapes and sizes, shades, and tones. Hair can become grey over time, and our feet may begin to ache as we get older. Similarly, our teeth can change over time, and for some, that may include our teeth becoming more sensitive. 

Whether you’ve dealt with sensitive teeth for some time, or you have noticed your teeth becoming more sensitive recently, today’s article will offer some helpful information about the causes/treatments of tooth sensitivity.


When the majority of someone’s teeth are sensitive, oftentimes the cause can be linked to a level of gum recession within their mouth. Gum recession is a term used by dentists to describe teeth where the gum line of the tooth has moved from its natural position toward the root of the tooth, or away from the biting surfaces of the teeth. When the gums recede, the root surfaces of teeth become exposed to the oral environment. 

During their initial exposure, root surfaces usually sensitive; however, over time, our bodies adapt to regular stimuli, becoming less so. 

In addition to the sensitivity of a tooth/teeth and the recession of gums as the origin, the condition of your enamel may also be the cause. Enamel acts as a protective barrier, acting as one of your teeth’ first lines of defense from all they are exposed to. 

From the food you eat to the beverages you consume, enamel plays a big part in warding off feelings of sensitivity. When the enamel of a tooth becomes compromised, either from decay or instances such as a chipped tooth, nerve endings that cause pain are exposed.

For recommendations pertaining to the loss/maintenance of enamel, please see the treatments section below.  

Types/signs of sensitivity

Teeth with isolated sensitivity are usually a sign of an underlying problem. The most common types of sensitivity patients experience are:

Cold sensitivity

Heat sensitivity 

Biting pressure/chewing sensitivity

Palpation/pressure sensitivity

Why am I experiencing sensitivity? Cont.  

There is almost an infinite number of reasons a patient may be experiencing sensitivity. The most common reasons are:

-Improper occlusion of biting pressure on a tooth that has shifted or received past dental care 

-Sinus inflammation/allergies


-A fractured tooth 

-Bruxism - nighttime clenching and/or grinding 

-Inflammation of the nerve or blood vessels within the tooth 

-Infection of the tooth, surrounding gum, or bone


First, it’s crucial to establish that if you have been experiencing sensitivity for two weeks or more, an evaluation from a dental expert should be performed in order to achieve a proper diagnosis. By correctly diagnosing the cause of the tooth’s sensitivity, developing a successful treatment plan can be streamlined, and of course, alleviate symptoms.  

For someone who is experiencing sensitivity to heat or cold due to recession, we recommend using Sensodyne toothpaste. Sensodyne contains an ingredient called Potassium Nitrate. This ingredient penetrates the dentin tubules located on the root surfaces of teeth to insulate the tooth from those painful stimuli. 

Sometimes recession is severe enough that Sensodyne is not enough to decrease a patient's symptoms. In which case, scheduling an appointment for a proper diagnosis/course of treatment is recommended. 


To avoid/ mitigate damage to the enamel of your teeth, it is recommended that you avoid food/drinks that have a high pH such as soda and candy. In addition, you may be brushing your teeth with a heavier hand than what’s necessary for your teeth to be properly cleaned. Try using a soft-bristled brush working at a 45-degree angle to your gum to keep maintain the strength/longevity of your enamel. 

Today we explored tooth sensitivity, some of its causes, as well as our recommendations when addressing this issue. Whether we experience any pain or sensitivity of our teeth is all a part of having the smile you deserve. Our experts at M Street Dental are here to help you with whatever your tooth-related inquires/concerns might be. If you’re experiencing sensitive teeth, or have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. Book your appointment today!

From all of us at M Street Dental,

Keep smiling!

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