Understanding tooth sensivity: causes, prevention tips, and treatment

Tooth sensitivity is a widespread concern that affects many individuals, causing discomfort and pain when exposed to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic stimuli. This condition, rooted in the exposure of the tooth’s dentin layer, can significantly diminish one’s quality of life.

However, understanding its causes, implementing effective prevention strategies, and seeking appropriate treatment can mitigate these effects and restore oral health. West Coast Dental Care stands at the forefront of addressing tooth sensitivity, offering a range of professional assessments and treatments tailored to each individual’s needs.

Causes of tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the dentin, the underlying layer of the teeth, becomes exposed. This layer contains microscopic channels, called tubules, which lead to the tooth’s nerve. When the protective enamel layer is worn away or the gums have receded, these tubules can transmit the sensations of hot, cold, or sweet directly to the nerves, resulting in pain. Several factors can contribute to this condition:


Enamel erosion: Acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits, wine, and soft drinks, can erode the tooth enamel over time.

Tooth decay: Cavities and decay can expose the dentin.

Gum disease: Inflammation and recession of the gums can expose the root surfaces of the teeth.

Brushing too hard: Using a hard-bristled toothbrush or applying too much force can wear down enamel and cause the gums to recede.

Teeth grinding: Chronic grinding or clenching of the teeth can wear down the enamel.

Cracked teeth: Cracks in the teeth can fill with bacteria from plaque and cause inflammation in the pulp of the tooth, which can lead to sensitivity.

Teeth whitening products: Some tooth whitening products can contribute to sensitivity.

Visit West Coast Dental Care for expert assessment and treatment of tooth sensitivity. Our team of dental professionals will pinpoint the cause and offer tailored solutions, from managing enamel erosion and decay to addressing gum disease and the effects of teeth grinding or whitening products. Schedule your appointment to alleviate sensitivity and enhance oral health.

Prevention tips

As they say, ‘prevention is better than cure’. We can all benefit from incorporating simple, proactive steps into our daily routines to prevent tooth sensitivity and maintain overall oral health, such as:

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: This can help prevent enamel erosion and gum recession.

Adopt a gentle brushing technique: Brush gently and use circular motions to clean the teeth and gums effectively without causing harm.

Limit acidic foods and drinks: Reduce the consumption of foods and beverages that can erode enamel.

Use fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride can help strengthen enamel and reduce the risk of decay.

Consider a nightguard if you grind your teeth: This can protect your teeth from the effects of grinding or clenching. Our dentist will discuss all the details that relate to this.

Regular dental check-ups: Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and to address any issues before they lead to sensitivity.

While prevention is key to maintaining oral health and avoiding tooth sensitivity, sometimes preventive measures come too late, or unexpected conditions arise that lead to sensitivity regardless of your efforts. If you find yourself in such a situation, don’t worry—West Coast Dental Care is here to help. Remember, it’s never too late to seek help for tooth sensitivity. Read more about some of the treatments for sensitivity that we offer at our clinic or reach out to discuss how we can support your journey back to comfort and health.

Treatment options

Tooth sensitivity can greatly affect daily life, turning the enjoyment of hot, cold, or sweet foods into an uncomfortable experience. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available, including:

Desensitising toothpaste

Desensitising toothpastes, containing active ingredients like potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, are designed to block the paths from the dentin to the tooth’s nerve, reducing sensitivity to various stimuli. With regular use, these toothpastes can significantly lessen tooth sensitivity. For enhanced results, we recommend applying a small amount to sensitive areas before bed alongside the usual brushing routine.

Fluoride gel

Fluoride gel treatments are a professional application conducted in a dental office. The high concentration of fluoride in the gel serves to strengthen tooth enamel, making it less susceptible to erosion and decay. This process, in turn, reduces the sensitivity of the teeth. The dentist may also prescribe a fluoride varnish or gel for home use, which can be applied using a custom-fitted tray. We particularly recommend this treatment for patients whose tooth sensitivity is due to enamel erosion or minor decay.


For teeth sensitivity that results from exposed root surfaces, a dental procedure known as bonding can offer relief. In this procedure, a tooth-coloured resin material is applied to the sensitive root areas. The resin acts as a barrier, protecting the dentin from external stimuli that can cause pain. Bonding can also improve the appearance of the teeth by covering discoloured or misshapen areas. The treatment is typically painless and can be completed in a single dental visit.

Surgical gum graft

Gum recession exposes the tooth’s root, leading to sensitivity. Surgical gum grafts address this by transplanting tissue, often from the palate, to the receded area, covering the exposed root to shield it from stimuli and lessen sensitivity. This procedure not only reduces discomfort but also enhances the smile’s appearance and promotes gum health. Recovery spans a few weeks, requiring adherence to a special diet and oral care routine.

Final words

In conclusion, you don’t have to live with tooth sensitivity forever. By recognising its causes, embracing preventive measures, and exploring the various treatment options available, you can achieve significant relief.

West Coast Dental Care is committed to providing the highest standard of care for those suffering from tooth sensitivity. Our expert team is ready to diagnose the specific causes of your discomfort and recommend a personalised treatment plan to alleviate sensitivity and enhance your overall oral health. Don’t let sensitivity dampen your enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures. Contact West Coast Dental Care today to schedule your consultation or book online, and take the first step towards a more comfortable and confident smile.

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