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Dentine hypersensitivity (sensitive teeth)

About dentine hypersensitivity

Dentine hypersensitivity (or sensitive teeth) affects one out of four adults. It can cause severe pain and discomfort on a daily basis. Having sensitive teeth can prevent you from enjoying some of your favourite hot and cold food.

Most of the time, teeth become sensitive because the gum is beginning to recede. The receding process leads to the exposure of the tooth’s roots. When the roots get in contact with a liquid, the air or hot or cold food, discomfort or temporary pain is felt.

Causes of dentine hypersensitivity

Gums and enamel protect the porous part of the tooth called dentine. Here are the main causes of dentine surface exposure:

  • Poor dental hygiene: plaque forming around the gums hardens to transform into tartar, which contains bacteria causing gingival recession;
  • Bad brushing habits: approximately 50% to 90% of people brush their teeth too vigorously. Over time, it can lead to gums receding;
  • Teeth abrasion caused by a hard-bristled toothbrush;
  • Surgery for a periodontal infection;
  • Enamel erosion by chemical agents;
  • Interproximal issues;
  • Gum trauma;
  • Medical afflictions, such as chemotherapy, bulimia and radiotherapy;
  • Teeth clenching or grinding.


  • Brush your teeth softly for two to three minutes, twice a day, to remove the plaque that forms on your teeth and contributes to their sensitivity.
  • Reduce the pressure you put on your toothbrush during brushing. Apply a low pressure circular motion.
  • Use a soft-bristled or electric toothbrush in order to minimize abrasion.
  • Floss daily. You will thus clean the 40% of the tooth’s surface that cannot by reached by a toothbrush.
  • Use mouthwash with fluoride every day.
  • Book a dental appointment every six months, or according to your dentist’s recommendation.
  • Cultivate healthy eating habits and include as many vegetables as possible in your diet. Reduce your consumption of high in sugar foods to prevent dental decay.


The pain caused by dentine hypersensitivity is not constant. Usually, sensitive teeth will generate occasional flashes of pain. Ongoing pain could be the symptom of a more serious issue. Come see us to learn about the treatment that fits you.

Treatment could be as simple as:

  • Switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush;
  • Using toothpaste specially designed for sensitive teeth, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate. You may have to try a few different brands before finding the one that works for you.
  • Using mouthwash with fluoride. It reinforces the teeth and covers the nerve terminations;
  • Avoid toothpaste designed to eliminate tartar, or whitening toothpaste. They could increase sensitivity.

Depending on the severity of the affliction, our team can suggest other options:

  • An oxalate compound can be applied on the root to minimize or even eliminate sensitivity;
  • Coating agents can be applied to close up the pores of the tooth’s root;
  • A mouthguard can reduce the effects of teeth grinding or clenching;
  • The last resort is an endodontics treatment during which a crown will be placed on the tooth with irreversible hypersensitivity.

Take care of your teeth

Do not let this affliction untreated. The cause of dentine hypersensitivity must be diagnosed in order to determine the appropriate treatment.

The absence of treatment can cause more dental issues, affecting the teeth and the gums, and may even lead to tooth loss. Many people suffering from dentine hypersensitivity simply use toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth seen on TV that may, if used over a long period of time, cover up a more serious problem.