Best Treatments For Sensitive Teeth

Dr. Christopher Li Etobicoke - Li Family Dental

By Dr. Christopher Li

June 15, 2024

sensitive teeth, tooth sensitivity, treatments for sensitive teeth

Sensitive teeth can interfere with your quality of life and keep you from enjoying your favourite foods and drinks. If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, you can use this guide to find the best prevention tips and treatments for sensitive teeth. 

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

what-causes-tooth-sensitivity

There are several factors that can lead to sensitive teeth, including:

  • Brushing too aggressively or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Receding gumline or periodontal disease
  • Cracked, chipped or broken teeth
  • Bruxism (grinding and clenching your teeth)
  • Over-the-counter teeth whitening products
  • Being aged 25 to 30
  • Plaque on your tooth root surfaces
  • Acidic mouthwashes, foods, and drinks
  • Conditions such as acid reflux disease and bulimia that increase acid in the mouth
  • Some dental procedures 

How Do I Know I Have Sensitive Teeth?

how-do-i-know-i-have-sensitive-teeth - A man in a gray shirt holds his cheek in pain while eating an ice cream cone, against a blue background.

Common symptoms of sensitive teeth include:

  • Pain or sensitivity when enjoying hot or cold foods and beverages
  • Pain from frigid air on your teeth
  • Pain or sensitivity when eating sweet or acidic foods and beverages
  • Sudden pain or sensitivity from cold water
  • Pain when you brush or floss
  • Pain when using alcohol-based mouth rinses

You might experience mild pain or sudden extreme pain. You might have pain all the time or only when you experience any of the common sensitivity triggers. When your sensitivity becomes troublesome, you should speak to your dentist so they can determine the cause and offer suggestions for relief. 

When To See Your Dentist For Sensitive Teeth

when-to-see-your-dentist-for-sensitive-teeth - A woman sits in a dental chair, holding her cheek and appearing to be in pain, while a dental professional in scrubs and gloves stands behind her with hands on her shoulders.

Although experiencing the above symptoms indicates you should speak to your dentist, you might find you can live with the inconvenience of occasional sensitivity without the need for treatment. However, if you experience any of the following more serious symptoms, you should speak to your dentist as soon as possible:

  • Pain that occurs suddenly even after using sensitivity toothpaste
  • Your pain is related to one tooth
  • Pain becomes more pronounced or occurs more frequently
  • You notice discolouration in the area causing pain
  • You experience pain when you chew or bite down 

How To Stop Pain From Sensitive Teeth

how-to-stop-pain-from-tooth-sensitivity

If you want immediate relief from tooth sensitivity, often applying desensitizing toothpaste or topical oral pain relievers directly to the sensitive area helps stop the pain. Some other effective home remedies for sensitive teeth include:

  • Using mouth rinses: There are a few mouth rinses that can help, including:
    • Saltwater rinses to reduce inflammation and discomfort
    • Two caps of 3% hydrogen peroxide added to equal parts warm water (be sure to spit the mixture out and rinse with water to remove residue)
    • Honey and warm water as sweeter options that can help reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation
    • Green tea to reduce inflammation
  • Turmeric: Turmeric is a bright yellow spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties. You can massage it into your gums and teeth twice a day to help reduce discomfort.
  • Vanilla extract: Soaking a cotton ball with vanilla extract and applying it to sensitive teeth for a few minutes acts as an antiseptic that also relieves pain.
  • Proper brushing: Speak to your dentist to learn proper brushing techniques that reduce the risk of receding gums that cause sensitivity.
  • Maintain good oral health: Following a strict oral hygiene regime can reduce the progression of dental issues such as gum disease, enamel erosion and receding gums that lead to tooth sensitivity.
  • Nightguards: If sensitivity is caused by bruxism, your dentist can provide a customized nightguard to help reduce pressure from clenching and pain.
  • Antacids for reflux: If you suffer from acid reflux, using antacids to manage reflux or prescription acid inhibitors for more severe cases helps reduce acid in your mouth and in turn, tooth sensitivity. 

What Is The Best Toothpaste For Sensitive Teeth?

what-is-the-best-toothpaste-for-sensitive-teeth

Your dentist can recommend the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth based on your oral health. 

What Are The Best Treatments For Sensitive Teeth?

what-are-the-best-treatments-for-sensitive-teeth

After a thorough examination, your dentist will recommend one of the following treatments:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste to help block pain
  • Fluoride treatment to help strengthen your tooth enamel and reduce pain
  • Bonding treatment to protect exposed root surfaces
  • Surgical gum grafts for extreme cases of receding gums
  • Root canal for sensitivity caused by an infection of the dental pulp
  • A nightguard for bruxism

It is important to have your sensitivity assessed to find the most effective treatment for your needs. In some cases, your dentist might recommend several of these treatments to help manage or eliminate discomfort. 

Sensitive Teeth Prevention Tips

sensitive-teeth-prevention-tips-maintain-excellent-oral-hygiene-habits

As with most dental issues, your first step to prevent sensitive teeth is ensuring you follow a daily dental hygiene regime, including:

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste
  • Choosing a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Daily flossing

Visiting your dentist twice a year for checkups and professional cleaning will also identify issues such as early gum disease or gum recession to provide treatment and advice before it worsens.

visit-dentist-twice-a-year-for-checkups-and-cleanings-to-prevent-tooth-sensitivity

You can also try the following tips:

  • Ask for brushing advice: Your dentist or hygienist can consider issues such as recession or plaque buildup and recommend improvements to your brushing technique to avoid further damage.
  • Consider a nightguard: As mentioned, nightguards can help reduce sensitivity if your dentist suspects you have bruxism. If you know you grind your teeth at night, speak to your dentist as soon as possible to be fitted for a custom night guard.
  • Drink and rinse with water: To reduce issues with enamel erosion, drink more water and rinse your mouth out after eating or drinking acidic foods and drinks. Water also reduces acids in your mouth by keeping it moist.
  • Avoid triggers: If you notice certain foods and drinks trigger sensitivity, avoid them. Some common triggers include hot or cold beverages, ice cream, acidic foods and drinks, and using ice in your drinks.
  • Use a straw: If you must enjoy cold or acidic beverages, drink them with a straw to reduce contact with your teeth and DON’T CHEW ICE!

You don’t have to live with the pain and discomfort of tooth sensitivity. You can start by following our tips to help prevent or reduce the symptoms of tooth sensitivity, focusing on reducing the risk of enamel erosion and gum recession. If you already experience tooth sensitivity, it just takes a quick appointment with your dentist to determine the cause and get set up with the best treatment to reduce your discomfort.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, give us a call at 416-232-2033 or request an appointment by clicking here.

Dr. Christopher Li

About the author

Doctor Christopher Li, DDS
Dr. Chris, as he is affectionately known, is a licensed dentist with over 20 years experience. His caring personality makes even the most tentative person at ease. Patients are constantly commenting about how Dr. Chris is incredible at delivering pain-free freezing, and how he has an amazing chair-side manner.  Dr. Chris loves sharing information with his patients and everyone who has teeth about how to care for their teeth, avoid tooth decay, and the treatments available to help them overcome their tooth pain or other dental issues so they can enjoy life and food to its fullest!

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