Feeling a Little Sensitive?

Ever wonder why your teeth light up like the Griswald Christmas when you bite into your favorite ice cream sandwich?  Have you learned to avoid putting ice in your beverages?  There are several reasons why your teeth get sensitive and hopefully after reading this, you will have a good idea about how to identify the cause as well as prevent and treat this super common problem.

In an effort to make this a quick read, I’ll stick to bullets and paraphrasing!  Essentially, I want you to look at the potential causes for tooth sensitivity and I’ll give you some tips on avoiding them.

Dry Mouth

You spit is meant to hydrate and it’s full of minerals that keep your teeth protected from plaque and food acids.  There are also tiny pores in our teeth called tubules and when those tubules don’t have a mineral rich coating, they allow fluids and air to pass deeper into the tooth and toward the nerve chamber. This can be extremely uncomfortable for some people!

  • Medications- Hundreds of them list reduced salivary flow and dry mouth as a possible side effect.
  • Dehydration- Not drinking enough water leads to fewer minerals to bathe and repair your teeth.
  • Mouth Breathing- When air passes over your teeth, they dry out more quickly.
  • Cancer Treatment- Medications and radiation are known to effect our salivary glands negatively.
  • Age- Unfortunately as we get up in years, our body simply doesn’t make as much spit.

How to resolve it:  

Besides the obviously habit of drinking more water, you should be aware that there are lots of products on the market that can help your mouth stay cleaner and feel better.  Biotene has long been used to treat symptoms and it can be found in almost every major retailer.  Alcohol free rinses like the Extreme Dry Mouth Rinse from Plaque HD uses baking soda and essential oils to gently coat and protect your teeth and gums.  See your dental profession if you have severe dry mouth because they can help get you a prescription for a product called Neutrasal. It is super saturated with minerals that not only help relieve dry mouth symptoms but it also replaces what your spit isn’t able to give you.  You know how your hygienist can help you while you are in that comfortable chair?  Fluoride treatments take just a minute or so and can be done after every cleaning.

Food and Drink Related Damage

Basically any food or drink that has a low pH can start to etch the teeth.  The more acidic the food, more more possibility of damage to your teeth.  More contact time means more breakdown.  Even though our enamel is tough (like volcanic glass), it is one of the only tissues in our body that can’t completely repair itself.


Click to see how acidic your food is.   ( Pronamel)
  • Soda
  • Energy Drinks
  • Frequent Sipping of Coffee
  • Fruit Juices
  • Sugary Snacks
  • Tomato Sauces


How to resolve it: 

Reducing your sensitivity and future risk of damage from low pH food and drink is simple.  If you eat or drink any of the offending acidic treats, you should rinse with water as soon as possible to help rid your mouth of acids that cause cavities. Avoid leaving it in your mouth for extended periods of time or sipping on something during the day that isn’t water.  Sorry Coke and Pepsi fans, I can’t say you are making good choices!  Make sure to ask your hygienist or dentist for a fluoride treatment in the office to get a jump start on the remineralization process.  When you have slight sensitivity but no visible damage from acid, you should be okay with treating the sensitivity with something like Sensodyne which has an ingredient called Potassium Nitrate.  It depolarizes the nerve endings and provides relief even better if you don’t wash it away with water after brushing. Keep in mind though, this won’t repair a cavity and is meant to be preventive, not necessarily therapeutic.

Physical Damage

  • Cracked or Chipped Teeth- Whether it’s from an sudden accident or gradual wear and tear.
  • Cavities- Basically a hole in your tooth mainly caused by bacteria.
  • Damaged Root Canals- The nerve chamber of you tooth can get bruised or infected.
  • Broken Fillings- Although they are meant to last for years, fillings eventually wear down too.
  • Wear and Tear From Clenching and Grinding- Sometimes it’s a bite related issue but it could also be from stress.

How to resolve it: 

Please don’t chew on ice.  Please don’t open things with your teeth.  Please wear a custom made night guard if you clench or grind.  Please don’t catch baseball bats and elbows in the face.  Please get your teeth checked for cavities and damage by a dental professional and don’t wait long when they recommend treatment.

Gum Disease

  • Recession / Exposed Roots- The roots of our teeth don’t have the protective enamel shell (which makes them weaker)
  • Infections and Swollen Gums- Inflammation caused by bacteria will eventually start to hurt.
  • Bone Loss- Although painless at first, gradual loss of the bone begins to get uncomfortable as vulnerable tissues are destroyed.

How to resolve it: 

This is going to affect over 80% of our total population at some point in their lives,  Germs are basically trying to destroy us and they live and breath in a moist environment. Our mouths are breeding grounds for disease causing bacteria so getting your teeth screened, cleaned and treated by a dental pro is the only way to go!  Taking great care of your teeth starting today will can save you years of heartache and avoidable dental bills.  You may not be able to grow bone back once it is gone, but you can prevent things from getting much worse.  And don’t even get me started on the oral/systemic link!!! Treatment for reducing the pain coming from periodontal disease include eliminations of the active disease, topical fluorides by a professional, prescription rinses and impeccable home care habits.

No matter where you current sensitivity is coming from, there are definitely some basic rules when it comes to caring for your teeth and gums.  First of all DON’T WAIT UNTIL SOMETHING HURTS!!! If you brush really well, floss really well and get your teeth cleaned on a regular basis, you will decrease your risk for all of these problems significantly.  Follow my basic tips and tricks for cleaning your mouth on this blog post. My all time favorite toothbrush is HERE, my go to kick butt toothpaste is HERE and my favorite flosser is HERE.



I hope this helps some of you.  If you read this and you want to see more in the future, make sure to sign up for more blog posts and comment below if you have any questions!

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