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How to Care for Sensitive Teeth

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, you’re not alone.  As many as 40 million adults in North America experience it each year, and it is one of the most common complaints among dental patients.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

When the layer of your tooth under the hard enamel, known as dentin, is exposed, it causes sensitivity.  Its degree depends on the person and can range from mild to extreme that is often most noticeable when eating or drinking – especially hot or cold items.


Ultimately all of the causes are related to either the gums receding or the enamel being worn away and therefore exposing the dentin layer of the teeth.

Gum recession

Gums can recede due to improper brushing technique or from gum disease. Once the areas of the teeth that were normally protected by the gums are exposed, sensitivity occurs.  In the case of gum disease, the gums will not only recede but will also show inflammation.  This more severe effect can even expose areas of the root of the tooth which causes sensitivity directly at the tooth’s nerve.

Tooth enamel missing

This occurs in the case of cracked, chipped or broken teeth.  Enamel can also be worn away by teeth grinding. Whenever the enamel is missing, the dentin layer is exposed and sensitivity occurs.

Recent dental treatments

A temporary sensitivity of the teeth can occur after visiting the dentist for cleanings or other restorative treatments.  This is temporary and it’s important to keep in mind the positive long term effect of the treatment.

Talk to our team at Millrise if you experience the problem after a treatment –  we’ll be happy to advise you on ways to diminish the effect.

Causes Of Tooth Sensitivity In Your Control

Some of the causes are related to your personal hygiene routines, foods you are eating and the dental products you use.  These can be adjusted to help turn around this situation.

Improper brushing

Remember that it’s not brushing hard that counts, but brushing properly and often!  Improper brushing can actually cause gum recession.

Foods with high acid content

Foods with a high acid content, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles and tea, can cause enamel erosion.  Although it’s hard to eliminate foods like these, try brushing after consuming these foods and avoid any of these foods at night, especially after brushing.

Teeth whitening products and toothpastes

Some toothpastes and whitening products are designed to help this problem.


Routine and regular visits to our hygienists will help you avoid this one.  Plaque builds up over time and can no longer be removed by brushing or flossing.  A significant plaque build up can cause sensitivity.  Read more about the importance of professional dental hygiene visits to our clinic.

What Can I Do At Home?

Here are some quick and easy tips which you can try at home:

  • using a desensitizing toothpaste
  • being careful with acid-containing foods
  • minimizing the amount of soft drinks consumed
  • using soft-bristled toothbrushes and not brushing your teeth too hard

What Can My Dentist Do?

If a tooth is highly sensitive and it lasts for several days, it’s best to come to us for an evaluation of your situation. Our dentists have a variety of treatment options to manage it, including:

  • White fillings (bonding) to cover exposed root surfaces
  • Fluoride varnishes applied to the exposed root surface
  • Dentin sealers applied to the exposed root surface
  • Nightguards to stop grinding and clenching at night

To discuss how we can help you at our dental office, please contact us today to book an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!

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