Sensitive teeth

Having sensitive teeth can be anything from getting a mild twinge to severe discomfort, it can also be an early warning sign of more serious dental problems.

Many people suffer from sensitive teeth however, it is more common in people aged 20 and 40, women are more likely to be affected than men.

Sensitivity can occur when the dentine is exposed.  This usually happens where the tooth and the gum meet and the enamel layer is much thinner. Here are some causes of sensitivity:

  • Brushing too hard.
  • Dental erosion: this is loss of tooth enamel caused by attacks of acid from acidic food and drinks.
  • Gums may naturally recede (shrink back), and the roots of the teeth will become exposed and can be more sensitive. Root surfaces do not have an enamel layer to protect them.
  • Gum disease: a build-up of plaque or tartar can cause the gum to recede down the tooth and even destroy the bony support of the tooth. Pockets can form in the gums around the tooth, making the area difficult to keep clean and the problem worse.
  • Tooth grinding
  • A cracked tooth or filling
  • Tooth bleaching: some patients have sensitivity for a short time during bleaching or afterwards.

During your examination our team will discuss your symptoms and will look at your teeth to ascertain the cause of the sensitivity and the best way to treat you.

Depending on the cause, we may treat the affected teeth with special ‘de-sensitising’ products to help relieve the symptoms. Fluoride gels, rinses or varnishes can be applied to sensitive teeth, these are painted onto the teeth at regular appointments, to help build up some protection.

Sensitivity can take time to settle, you may need to have several appointments. If this does not help, we will discuss other options with you and we may seal or fill around the neck of the tooth, where the tooth and gum meet, to cover exposed dentine. In some cases it may be necessary to root-fill the tooth.


  • Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with fluoride toothpaste. Use small, circular movements with a soft- to medium-bristled brush
  • Change your toothbrush every two to three months, or sooner
  • Don’t brush straight after eating
  • Have sugary foods, and fizzy and acidic drinks, less often
  • If you grind your teeth, talk to your dental team about whether you should have a mouthguard made, to wear at night
  • If you are thinking about having your teeth bleached, discuss sensitivity with your dental team before starting treatment
  • Visit your dental team regularly

If you have any questions at all, please get in touch.

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