HomeDental ProblemsTeeth sensitivity (Dentin hypersensitivity) : Causes, Treatment

Teeth sensitivity (Dentin hypersensitivity) : Causes, Treatment

What is Teeth sensitivity?

Whenever you eat or drink hot or cold, or sweet and acidic food, or brush and floss your teeth, you feel a sharp pain for a shorter period, it is called Teeth sensitivity or dentin hypersensitivity and also known as dentin hypersensitivity.

Sensitivity occurs due to worn enamel and exposed root surface. The sensitivity is increased by thermal changes, sweet and sour.

Teeth sensitivity to foods
  • Most cases are seen in the 20 to 40 age group.
  • Females are more affected than males.
  • Reduced incidence of tooth sensitivity has been noticed in older people because of changes in tooth structure as age advances.

Causes of Teeth sensitivity :

Common causes :

dentin hypersensitivity

Why does Teeth sensitivity occur?

The main cause of dentin hypersensitivity is dentinal tubules exposed in the outer environment because of erosion or worn enamel covering and exposed root surface.

A tooth is divided into two parts; Crown and Root. Each tooth is available in the mouth, protected by an outer protective layer called Enamel and Cementum. The Crown portion of a tooth is covered by enamel and the root portion of the tooth is covered by cementum.

Human tooth structure

Below the outer protective layer, hard tissue called dentin is available, and it is less dense in comparison to Enamel and Cementum hard tissues. Dentin contains microscopic tubule structures called dentinal tubules.

Dentin with dentinal tubules
Image credit : Murilo Baena Lopes (at ResearchGate)

So whenever the outermost protective layer enamel breaks, the stimulus of hot or cold, or acidic food reaches the dentinal tubules; and it contains protoplasmic projections of odontoblasts within the pulp chamber. These cells include nerve endings, and whenever it gets disturbed through outer stimuli, depolarization of nerves occurs and it causes the sensation of pain.

You may also notice sensitivity after some dental procedures like tooth restoration, Crown preparation, teeth bleaching, scaling (teeth cleaning), etc. for a shorter period.

  • Common reasons for Enamel wear/loss : It may occur due to many reasons like erosion of enamel due to environmental or dietary elements like acidic food (Soda, soft drinks, high sugar or carbohydrates rich foods), attrition because of bruxism (Clenching of teeth or grinding teeth), abrasion led by improper brushing technique, and dietary elements, worn fillings tooth trauma like a cracked or fractured tooth.
  • Common reasons for Gingival recession : Abrasion due to improper brushing technique, excessive flossing, oral habits (picking, eating hard foods), dental procedures like Crown preparation, and disease like NUG (Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis), periodontitis, herpetic gingivostomatitis.

You should take the advice of your dentist before making any conclusion in your mind to get the actual cause behind your teeth sensitivity.

How you can avoid Dentin hypersensitivity :

You can follow the preventive measures given below for sensitive teeth.

  1. Focus on your diet and reduce your intake of highly sugary food, and acidic drinks. It doesn’t mean you eliminate it, but have it less frequently.
  2. Regular brushing of your teeth is crucial to maintain good oral hygiene and preventing oral disease. Make sure you know the proper brushing technique. Don’t be hard on your teeth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and change it at regular intervals.
  3. Use toothpaste instead of tooth powder because toothpaste in gel form is good for your teeth instead of tooth powder.
  4. If you have any habits like clenching teeth or grinding teeth at night (also known as Bruxism) then you should use night guards to prevent erosion of the enamel surface. Meet your dentist and take advice if you have such a habit.
  5. Use only alcohol-free mouthwash; mouthwashes contain alcohol cause irritation and sensitivity pain.
  6. Routine dental check ups help to cure any oral condition and prevent progression of any oral disease. Everyone should visit the dentist at least twice a year for routine dental checkups.

Treatment of Dentin hypersensitivity :

Desensitizing Toothpaste 

The use of Desensitizing dentifrice for several days relieves the tooth sensitivity. There are many products available in the market for Teeth sensitivity, take the advice of your dentist before using any product.


Varnish seals the exposed dentinal tubules. It relieves pain and reduces sensitivity. Ask your dentist for the treatment.

Dental Resins and sealers

It works like varnish and seals the dentinal tubules, and relieves sensitivity by reducing or blocking the outer stimulus to dentinal tubules. Visit your dentist for the treatment.

Fluorides / Fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride application on affected sensitive areas may relieve your sensitivity by blocking the exposed dentinal tubules. There are many fluoride products like fluoride gel, etc. available on market. Consult your dentist for fluoride treatment.

Gum graft

For gums recession, a gum graft is helpful to cover the root surface of the tooth surface and maintainance of oral hygiene.

Mouth guards

If your sensitivity occurs because of Bruxism or grinding of the teeth, then a mouth guard may help by preventing wear of enamel and eventually help in sensitivity. Consult your dentist to know the actual cause behind your teeth sensitivity.

These are the treatment modalities commonly used to overcome sensitive teeth.

I hope you understand all about teeth sensitivity (also known as dentin hypersensitivity). You can write your doubts in the comment section.

I hope you understand all about dentin hypersensitivity. You can write your doubts in the comment section. Share this information with your friends and family to make them aware of it. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram.

Dr. Shubham G. Devaiya, BDS
Dr. Shubham G. Devaiya, BDS
Dr. Shubham G. Devaiya is a registered Dentist and Medical content writer. He owns DentalFord and publishes content related to Oral Health for Oral Health Awareness.


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Disclaimer : All the information on the page is for educational purposes only to make you aware, you can’t take it as a substitute for medical advice. If you are facing any health issues it is advised to take direct Medical help from medical professionals immediately.