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How to Relieve Tooth Sensitivity

Are your teeth hurting when you take a sip of hot soup? Or when ice cream touches your pearly whites? Tooth sensitivity is a result of exposed dentin. Dentin is the layer under the tooth’s enamel that has microscopic tubules filled with nerve endings that are sensitive to pain. While tooth enamel protects the dentin in the crown, the cementum protects the dentin that reaches underneath the crown to the roots.

Source: What Can You Do About Sensitive Teeth? (webmd.com)

Oddly enough, tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body. But when it is not protecting the dentin because it is worn down, sensitivity develops so that even brief exposure to hot, cold, acidic or sticky foods can make the tooth hurt. So what causes your tooth enamel to wear down? Any of the following can hurt your teeth.


Brushing your teeth harshly and using a hard bristled toothbrush wears down tooth enamel. Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently. No harsh brushing!


Eating acidic foods will hurt exposed nerves. Limit exposure to acidic foods like citrus, kiwis, pickles and tomato sauce, and beverages like soda which are highly acidic.


If you grind your teeth at night while you sleep, this will wear down the enamel over time, exposing the dentin. Speak with your dentist about possibly using a custom-made night guard fitted for your bite to stop grinding.

Whitening toothpaste

Tooth whitening chemicals in toothpaste can be harsh on tooth enamel. Consider switching to a fluoride toothpaste or a toothpaste especially made for sensitive teeth.

Alcohol-based mouthwash

Oral rinses that contain alcohol can make sensitive teeth hurt more, especially if dentin is exposed. You might wish to skip using a daily oral rinse, or switch to one that contains fluoride protection.

Receding gums

As you age, your gums recede naturally, but your gums also recede due to gum disease. If your gums are receding, consider talking to your dentist about a procedure to seal your teeth as well as treating gingivitis.


If you have excess plaque it will wear down tooth enamel. Brush and floss daily, and be sure to keep your six month dental cleanings to keep plaque under control and remove tartar (hardened plaque).

Dental procedures

Root canals, tooth extractions, or crowns can make a tooth sensitive temporarily. In case you have an infection following a procedure, let your dentist know if tooth sensitivity doesn’t go away.

Cracked teeth

A chipped or cracked tooth can make your tooth hurt if dentin is exposed. See your dentist to cap the tooth or extract it.

Decayed fillings

Decay around old fillings allows bacterial acid to build up in and wear down enamel. If this is happening, you will want to check with your dentist about replacing the old filling.

Source: Sensitive Teeth: Causes, Remedies & Treatments Available (clevelandclinic.org)

If you are having problems with tooth sensitivity, please call Total Care Dentistry at 757-309-4450 today and let us help restore your smile!