FAQ

Tooth Sensitivity FAQs

  • What is tooth sensitivity?

    Tooth sensitivity, often described by consumers as a "tooth twinge", "tooth ache" or "sore teeth" most frequently occurs when eating or drinking hot or cold food and drinks. You may also feel discomfort when consuming sweet or sour food and drinks, or when you brush your teeth and rinse with cold water. Many adults have only occasional tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity may be an indication of an underlying dental problem. Please consult your dentist.

    See "About Sensitive Teeth."

  • What causes tooth sensitivity?

    Underneath the tooth's protective enamel coating is a highly porous layer called dentine. Thousands of microscopic tubules run through the dentine. Once dentine is exposed, nerves within the dentine tubules can become susceptible to triggers such as cold food or drinks and respond with a short sharp pain.

    See "What Causes Sensitive Teeth?"

  • How can I relieve sensitive teeth?

    Brushing with a sensitivity toothpaste such as Sensodyne helps relieve sensitive teeth. Ongoing twice daily use can help prevent sensitivity coming back. Another tip is to avoid brushing too hard and to use a soft-bristled toothbrush specially designed for sensitive teeth. Taking good care of your teeth and seeing your dentist regularly can also help protect against conditions that contribute to sensitivity, such as gum disease, tooth decay and gum recession.

    See "Sensitivity."

  • What triggers sensitive teeth?

    Sensitive teeth can be caused by gum recession, loss of enamel or damage to teeth and gums. Temporary sensitivity can be caused by cosmetic professional or at-home whitening treatments. Sensitive teeth can be triggered by:

    • Cold foods or beverages
    • Hot foods or beverages
    • Sweet or sour (acidic) foods
    • Plaque and bacteria

    See "Sensitivity Triggers."

  • Is tooth sensitivity a common dental problem?

    Yes. Sensitive teeth affect many people and can start at any age. Sensitive teeth may affect younger people as a result of changes in modern lifestyles and eating habits. As we consume more acidic food and drinks and snack more often during the day, we may be more at risk of developing sensitive teeth.

  • Is tooth sensitivity a sign of a more serious dental problem?

    Often, tooth sensitivity is nothing more than a nuisance. However, sensitive teeth may indicate an underlying dental problem requiring prompt care by a dentist. See your dentist as soon as possible for advice.

  • Can brushing too hard cause sensitive teeth?

    Yes. Brushing too hard can lead to receding gums. Over time, it can also lead to wearing away of the tooth, which is another way dentine becomes exposed, causing sensitivity.

    See the Sensodyne Toothbrush.

  • Can tooth whitening cause sensitivity?

    Tooth whitening treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Typically, the ingredients in the products used for whitening are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These are usually administered through a specially made tray (similar to a gum-shield). As the whitening agent is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter. Tooth sensitivity is widely recognized as being associated with tooth bleaching procedures. There is no exact science to predicting if you will experience sensitivity so be sure to discuss this with your dentist prior to any treatment.

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