What causes tooth sensitivity?

One out of four adults have tooth sensitivity.  This sensitivity can be constant or it can come and go over time.  Tooth sensitivity comes from the tooth’s surface being worn away or from gum tissue receding and exposing the root of the tooth.  There is no protective covering (enamel) on the root.  So thousands of tiny channels in your tooth that lead to the nerve are unprotected.  Whenever you eat or drink something hot or cold or brush your teeth, you experience pain.

Sensitive teeth may cause you more problems than simply not enjoying hot or cold foods and liquids.  You may end up brushing your teeth poorly or even avoiding brushing altogether.  That leads to tooth decay and gum disease.

What can I do about tooth sensitivity?

One of the most important things to do is tell your dentist or your hygienist.  If poor brushing is the cause, they can show you how to properly brush and floss so you don’t wear away your gum line and expose the root.  Products you can use to desensitize your teeth are:

  • Desensitizing toothpastes
  • Soft bristle toothbrushes
  • Brush-on fluoride treatments

Many desensitizing products are available over the counter.  However, products such as brush-on fluorides can only be purchased by prescription.  Your NCD oral health care professional will know which products are best for you.