Sensitive Teeth 101: How to Know When to See a Dentist

Dental care is essential to preserving your healthy teeth and gums. One common dental issue that many people experience is sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity can cause discomfort and pain when eating or drinking hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages. This article will discuss what causes sensitive teeth and when you should see a dentist for treatment.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

The outermost surface of our teeth is called enamel. The enamel protects the underlying dentin, which contains tiny tubules that lead to nerve endings in the tooth’s pulp. When the enamel is excessively worn or the dentin is exposed, the nerve endings become more sensitive, causing pain and discomfort.

There are numerous reasons why someone may acquire tooth sensitivity, including:

  1. Tooth Decay or Cavities: When bacteria in the mouth yield acid that eats away at the enamel, it can lead to cavities and tooth decay.
  2. Gum Disease: The inflammation and infection of the gums can cause the gums to recede, exposing the sensitive dentin.
  3. Teeth Grinding: Grinding or clenching your teeth can strip the enamel and expose the dentin.
  4. Brushing Too Hard: Brushing too aggressively can wear down the enamel and cause gum recession.
  5. Acidic Foods and Drinks: Consuming acidic foods and drinks can erode the enamel and expose the dentin.

When to See a Dentist

Persistent tooth sensitivity will not go away without treatment, even if you improve your dental hygiene habits. If your tooth sensitivity is affecting your ability to live a normal life, it’s best to contact a dentist immediately. here are seven signs that you should book a dental appointment immediately. 

  1. Pain or discomfort when eating or drinking hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages.
  2. Pain or discomfort when brushing or flossing.
  3. Receding gums or visible tooth decay.
  4. Persistent tooth pain or sensitivity that lasts more than a few days.
  5. Cracked or chipped teeth.
  6. Grinding or clenching your teeth.
  7. Changes in the color or texture of your teeth.

Dental Treatment for Sensitive Teeth

Once your dentist has determined the underlying cause of your tooth sensitivity, they can recommend appropriate treatment options. Here are some common dental treatments for sensitive teeth:

  1. Desensitizing Toothpaste: Your dentist may recommend using toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth. These kinds of toothpaste contain ingredients that help to block nerve endings and reduce sensitivity.
  2. Fluoride Treatments: Your dentist may apply fluoride to your teeth to fortify the enamel and decrease sensitivity.
  3. Dental Fillings: If you have cavities or tooth decay, your dentist may recommend filling the affected teeth to prevent further damage and reduce sensitivity.
  4. Gum Grafting: If gum recession is causing your tooth sensitivity, your dentist may suggest a gum grafting procedure to coat the exposed roots and reduce sensitivity.
  5. Root Canal Therapy: In severe cases of tooth sensitivity, your dentist may suggest a root canal to remove the infected or damaged pulp and alleviate pain and sensitivity.

Preventing Tooth Sensitivity

Preventing tooth sensitivity is the best way to avoid discomfort and pain. Here are some tips to help avoid tooth sensitivity:

  1. Practice Good Oral Hygiene: Brush twice daily, floss daily, and visit your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups.
  2. Use a Soft-bristled Toothbrush: Brushing too aggressively can wear down the enamel and cause gum recession.
  3. Avoid Acidic Foods and Drinks: Limit your intake of acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits, soda, and sports drinks.
  4. Wear a Mouthguard: If you grind or clench your teeth, wear a mouthguard to shield your teeth from further damage.


Tooth sensitivity is a common and treatable dental issue that can cause discomfort and pain in severe cases. If you experience tooth sensitivity, seeing a dentist, pinpointing the underlying cause and receiving appropriate treatment is important. By practicing good oral hygiene and preventing tooth sensitivity, you can maintain healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.

If you experience a dental emergency in Boston, don’t hesitate to contact Mass Dental Associations for immediate assistance. Our team of experienced dentists is available to provide prompt and effective treatment to relieve your pain and restore your oral health. Call us today to schedule an appointment or learn more about our emergency dental services.

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