Menu Cheadle Hulme Dental And Cosmetics Logo

Request a free consultation: 0161 486 0743

Book a free online consultation

21 February 2023

Dentin Hypersensitivity: What Is It and What Helps?

If you are someone who experiences teeth pain when eating or drinking or brushing your teeth then you could have dentin hypersensitivity. This condition is more often referred to as having sensitive teeth and is very common. A tooth may be sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, acidity, touch, and pressure.

What Are the Causes of Dentin Hypersensitivity?

Dentin hypersensitivity is caused by certain stimuli that induce a sharp pang of temporary teeth pain. For some people the discomfort can be mild, for others it can be severe. Having sensitive teeth can affect what you eat and drink, as well as your daytime activities. Without treatment, severe tooth sensitivity could have a significant impact on the quality of your life.

Such hypersensitivity is often due to the erosion of the protective tooth enamel, exposing the dentin below. It may also be due to exposed tooth roots. Dental conditions that cause this include tooth decay, gum disease, fillings that are worn down, a chipped or cracked tooth, and receding gums.

When the dentin or the roots of a tooth become exposed, they can become sensitive to various stimuli. This includes:

  • hot or cold foods and drinks
  • hot and cold temperatures
  • cold breezes
  • acidic foods and drinks
  • pressure applied to the tooth
  • certain oral care products such as mouthwash or abrasive toothpaste

You increase your risk of dentin hypersensitivity if you don’t adhere to a thorough oral care routine. However, when you brush your teeth, you mustn’t brush too aggressively as this can cause the erosion of the tooth enamel. Further risk factors for sensitive teeth include:

  • teeth grinding
  • acidic foods and drinks
  • using abrasive oral care items like whitening toothpaste
  • receding gums due to gum disease
  • tooth decay and cavities

These are risk factors for sensitive teeth because they increase the risk of exposing the dentin or the tooth roots.

Why Exposure of Dentin Leads to Sensitive Teeth

Dentin forms the bulk of a tooth and sits just below the harder layer of enamel. It helps to form the structure of the tooth. However, it also contains nerve fibers within microscopic tubules, whose role is to help relay sensations to the brain.

Relaying these sensations helps prevent us from damaging our teeth, for instance by biting down too hard on foods that could chip or crack a tooth. The sensitivity issue comes when the protective enamel is worn away and the dentin becomes exposed.

Stimuli such as hot and cold temperatures and pressure that the dentin would normally be protected from can now stimulate the nerve fibers. This causes the temporary pangs of pain experienced by those with sensitive teeth.

As a result of sensitivity, people may experience issues when eating and drinking, or even when speaking. It can lead to them avoiding certain types of food and not going out in certain weather conditions. However, this can be addressed as tooth sensitivity can be managed.

Treatment Options

If you are experiencing teeth pain consult with your dentist at the earliest opportunity. They can perform an extensive examination of your teeth and gums and ask you some questions to identify the cause of your discomfort.

If dentin hypersensitivity is diagnosed your dentist is likely to recommend home remedies first, particularly if the sensitivity is not too severe. A desensitizing toothpaste is a common remedy. This helps prevent the stimuli from reaching the nerve tissues within the dentin, blocking off the pain.

Be aware that it can take several applications of a desensitizing toothpaste before you might notice any benefits. Therefore, you need to remain a little patient and anticipate you won’t see immediate results.

Your dentist may also apply a fluoride gel while you are at the dental practice. This is also aimed at preventing the sensations from reaching the dentin by strengthening the tooth enamel. It is also possible that they provide a prescription for fluoride that you can apply at home from a custom tray.

Where the sensitivity is caused by tooth decay or damage to the tooth, your dentist may recommend a filling or a crown. This will cover the gaps or weaknesses within the tooth that are exposing the dentin to stimuli causing pain from tooth sensitivity.

Bonding can also be used to address cracks in a tooth. A bonding resin may also be recommended if your sensitivity is caused by exposed tooth roots. In this instance, you may require a local anesthetic while your dentist applies the resin to the exposed roots.

Surgical Options

While your dentist will look to treat teeth sensitivity with a non-invasive treatment method where possible, in more severe cases a surgical approach may be required.

For example, if your sensitivity and pain are from tooth roots exposed due to receding gums then they may advise a gum graft. A small quantity of gum tissue is taken from elsewhere in the oral cavity and used to cover the exposed roots.

A root canal may also be suggested when other treatment options have failed to reduce your sensitivity. This is seen as the most effective method for treating severe tooth sensitivity pain.

However your sensitivity is treated it can take time to work. As always, it is best to try and prevent issues from arising in the first place, and there are ways to help prevent sensitive teeth.


Prevention is better than cure as the saying goes. The following are ways to help prevent dentin hypersensitivity.

  • Twice daily brushing with toothpaste containing fluoride
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently
  • Daily flossing and regular dental appointments
  • Wait an hour after eating before brushing your teeth as some foods can soften the enamel
  • Avoid or reduce foods and drinks that are acidic or high in sugar content

Dentin hypersensitivity is a common condition that can cause severe tooth discomfort. However, you don’t need to put up with the condition. If you have sensitive teeth, book an appointment with your dentist who will help diagnose the cause and recommend the appropriate treatment.


Back to Blogs

Get in touch



Taking your smile in a positive direction

When it comes to a friendly, caring, and professional dentist in Cheadle Hulme, you won’t find better than Cheadle Hulme Dental and Cosmetics. Why not book an appointment by contacting us directly at 0161 486 0743? We look forward to welcoming you.

General Dentistry

Cosmetic Dentistry

Teeth Straightening

Dental Implants

Advanced Dentistry

Facial Aesthetics

General Dentistry

Cosmetic Dentistry

Teeth Straightening

Dental Implants

Advanced Dentistry

Facial Aesthetics

View our treatments

Tour our practice

Google Rating
Google Rating
Let us implant our reputation in your smile
If you’re ready for a beautiful smile, you’ll love Invisalign clear aligners.
Implant open day
Invisalign open day
Discover Dates!
Discover Dates!