Have you experienced tooth sensitivity lately? It often happens while biting into a cold food or while sipping a hot beverage. how to combat tooth sensitivity What should be a pleasurable experience, such as eating an ice cream cone or enjoying a hot cup of coffee, can be painful for those suffering with tooth sensitivity.

Even everyday hygiene such as brushing or flossing trigger that shooting pain of sensitivity.  It’s not fun.

The good news is that there are several actions you can take, some with the help of your dentist, to combat tooth sensitivity.

But first, why is this happening in the first place?


Tooth sensitivity occurs when either: the enamel that protects the “dentin” of the teeth above the gum line is eroded; or when the gums recede leaving the tooth root exposed.  This is often caused by cavities reaching the dentin layer. If this is the case, it should be checked out to confirm via x-ray otherwise it may progress to needing a root canal treatment.

The exposed dentin layer of the tooth has this reaction because it contains microscopic tubules, which are essentially small hollow tubes or canals. Without its protective covering of enamel or gum tissue, these tiny tubules allow heat. cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth – and this result is the shooting pain of tooth sensitivity.  It lets you know that something is wrong.

What can be done to combat this awful pain?

6 steps to combat tooth sensitivity

Check your toothpaste

Can toothpaste really make a difference?  Yes!  Special toothpastes contain an active ingredient called potassium nitrate, which helps provide a barrier to the exposed tiny tubules in the dentin.  This barrier between your food and dentin can be just enough to put an end to the pain.  Keep using this toothpaste consistently to get the results you want.

Be aware while brushing

Most people brush too hard in an attempt to remove plaque.  Be aware, as brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can actually wear away enamel!  When gum recession is present, the result is even worse.  Overly vigorous brushing can wear away at the cementum, which covers the tooth root – leaving a very sensitive tooth exposed.

The correct way to brush is gently with a soft bristled brush.  To be effective brush longer – a full 2 minutes.  Changing your brushing habits may not be easy, but it’s a change that will help significantly.

Watch out for food and drinks that destroy enamel

Acidic foods such as red wine, fruit juice, soda, oranges and even pickles can damage your enamel. Since enamel loss is irreversible, the earlier you can implement this, the better.  If you do partake in these foods and drinks, wait 20 minutes and then brush.

Look to your dentist for options

Your dentist can offer you some options as well.  Desensitizing agents like fluoride varnish can be applied to the sensitive areas of your teeth. They do wear off over time so they’ll need to be reapplied periodically.

Put a stop to tooth grinding

If you’re grinding your teeth, you could be wearing away enamel and giving yourself a sensitivity problem. A solution for this is a mouthguard worn at night. If you notice yourself clenching during the day, remind yourself to relax your jaw with your teeth slightly apart.

Treat your receding gums

Normally the root of your tooth is covered up by your gum tissue. However, when gum recession occurs, the root can be exposed and cause sensitivity. A dental specialist may be able to rebuild or restore your receding gums, for example with a treatment involving tissue grafts.

Before considering gum grafts, however, it’s important first to pinpoint the exact cause of sensitive teeth. If incorrect brushing is the cause, for example, this has to be dealt with first, so that the treatment is not only effect but long-lasting.

Please contact Downtown Nanaimo Dental Group to book an appointment today!