Top 7 Causes & Remedies for Extra Sensitive Teeth

The complete guide to tooth sensitivity

If you experience any form of tooth sensitivity, you’re not alone!

An estimated 1 in 8 adults experience sharp pain or discomfort while consuming hot, cold or acidic foods.

To understand what causes tooth sensitivity & how to permanently stop the pain, we've outlined the top 7 cause & remedies you should know!

If you experience any form of tooth sensitivity, you’re not alone!

or bleaching

CAUSE: Teeth whitening uses active ingredients to open the pores of your teeth, allowing stains to be lifted over time. The whitening process causes temporary dehydration which can constrict the teeth and cause pressure on the nerve. This is completely normal but there are several products and methods that you can use to reduce (or eliminate) sensitivity all together.

Shorter whitening sessions.

A normal whitening session lasts around 1.5 hours. If you are unsure of your sensitivity level, start with 45 minutes and progress upward.

Fewer whitening sessions

Without sensitivity, a person can whiten every day until they reach their desired results. For sensitive teeth, try whitening every other day or every 2 days.

Post-whitening fluoride treatment:

For optimal stain prevention and reduction in sensitivity, use a post-whitening desensitizing gel. Smile Brilliant's desensitizing gel is formulated to seal pores after whitening and promote enamel production.

NO whitening strips!

Whitening strips are highly concentrated and are known to cause severe sensitivity.


CAUSE: Tooth dehydration is probably the least talked about oral care issue in America. The effects of tooth dehydration not only affects your sensitivity but is why many of us experience gum loss and tooth decay despite a good oral hygiene routine. The leading cause of tooth dehydration is a lack of saliva (also known as dry mouth). Dry mouth can be genetic but it is most often caused by certain medications (see a list here), medical procedures (such as chemotherapy) or excessive use of alcohol, caffeine, or alcohol-based mouthwash.

Stay physically hydrated

Drinking more water while reducing caffeine is great for overall health, youthfulness, and dry mouth.

Stop excessive whitening and especially the use of whitening strips

The ingredients in whitening products are safe but overuse can turn temporary sensitivity into a more permanent one. Whitening strips are often highly concentrated and can cause more long-term damage if abused.

No more alcohol-based mouthwash

Many antiseptic mouth rinses have alcohol. Alcohol kills bacteria but it also severely dries out teeth and gums.

Reduce caffeine and other stimulants

Soda, coffee, tea, and other stimulants reduce the amount of saliva production. This self-induced dry mouth is avoidable.

Stimulate saliva production
  • If you have a genetic condition or take necessary medications, use quality products that stimulate saliva and aid in rebuilding enamel
  • Use a post-brushing fluoride treatment such as Smile Brilliant’s Enamel Armour
  • Include a saliva replacement in your nightly routine
  • Chew gum & use oral care products containing xylitol to help stimulate saliva production.
Loss of Tooth

CAUSE: We lose enamel due to aggressive brushing. The whitening process causes (especially with a whitening toothpaste), a poor oral microbiome (ie: acidic oral pH) or decay. Brushing too hard will also lead to receding gums and exposed dentin. We are taught to brush multiple times a day but poor brushing techniques can do just as much damage as it does good. Poor oral hygiene leads to an overly acidic mouth which leads to decay.

Stop using whitening toothpaste!

Whitening toothpaste often includes pulverized rocks! Yes, calcium carbonate is a common substance found in rocks (and your whitening toothpaste)! It’s incredibly abrasive! You’re essentially scraping off the surface layer of your tooth enamel for a very limited (and temporary) amount of whitening. Whitening toothpaste does not remove deep stains and should never be used by someone with sensitive teeth. A professional whitening product is non-abrasive and will remove deep stains safely. It is always best to brush with a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth and free from calcium carbonate, peroxides, or other whitening agents.

Eliminate aggressive brushing and hard bristles

Plaque film that forms on your teeth is very soft and easily removable. There is no reason to apply lots of pressure while brushing. If the bristles on your toothbrush get squashed and flattened over time, you are brushing too hard. If you have an electric toothbrush, the device is moving at thousands of vibrations per minute. You only need to gently touch an electric toothbrush to your teeth to maximize the cleanness. The use of a smaller brush head or softer bristles will also reduce the amount of wear on your teeth. Brush regularly but be gentle!

Clenching / Grinding

CAUSE: Anxiety, excessive stimulants, such as caffeine or medication, stress, and tension can cause arousals during sleep and lead a person to grind or clench their teeth.
Continuous clenching and/or grinding can permanently remove your enamel but it can also lead to trauma to the nerve. These consequences may be irreversible.

Continuous clenching and/or grinding can permanently remove your enamel and lead to nerve trauma. These consequences may be irreversible

Reduce caffeine & stimulants

Excessive Caffeine and other stimulants are known to increase anxiousness and anxiety which often leads to clenching or grinding.

Wear a nightguard

Custom-fitted nightguards eliminate direct tooth-to-tooth contact. They absorb impact and protect from irreversible damage caused by clenching or grinding.

Receding Gums
(exposed dentin)

CAUSE: Gums often recede as a result of a few factors: aggressive brushing, gum disease (periodontitis), aging or dry mouth for prolonged periods of time. The receding gums expose the softer tissue of the teeth known as dentin. Dentin is far more susceptible to changes in hot and cold temperatures.

To prevent gum recession

be sure to brush and floss gently, keeping in mind that removing leftover food debris & plaque does not require excess pressure. Maintain a healthy oral care routine that prevents plaque buildup & inflammation. Consider using tools to gently care for your teeth such as a water flosser, which provides specialized tips to easily reach all areas of the teeth and gums & allows for gentle, effective cleaning.

A common treatment for mild gum recession

is rinsing with warm salt water a few times daily to kill unwanted bacteria & soothe inflammation. Once inflammation has subsided & a healthy oral care routine is established, we can consider long-term maintenance. To preclude further struggle with gum inflammation, consider an oral probiotic, which will crowd out harmful bacteria, known to create harmful plaque & acidic oral pH, by re-populating with concentrated amounts of healthy bacteria your mouth needs.

Tooth decay
or Gingivitis

CAUSE: Poor oral hygiene causes a myriad of issues both inside the mouth and the body itself. Without regular brushing, dental visits, and healthy oral care, the oral microbiome can run wild. Excessive bad bacteria, decay, exposed dentin, cavities, and loss of gum tissue are just a few of the issues that result from poor hygiene and an imbalance in the microbiome. These consequences may be irreversible

Brush and floss regularly

Go to your bi-annual dentist checkup and keep on top of your oral care!

Include dental probiotics in your routine

Dental probiotics improve the oral microbiome. Healthy bacteria in the mouth has shown to reduce cavity development and plaque build-up.

Rinsing with water goes a long way!

Simply rinsing your mouth with warm water 2-3 times after each meal greatly reduces the volume of plaque that may develop in your mouth. It also reduces the pH in the mouth which is a better environment for healthy bacteria.

Incorporate daily fluoride treatments

In the case of gingivitis, patients often require strong antiseptic rinses which will help heal gums but will dehydrate teeth. It is recommended that you use a post-brushing fluoride treatment(such as cariPRO Enamel Armour) or other similar products to protect and rebuild tooth enamel.

Trauma / Hard Impact
(Chipped or Broken Teeth)

CAUSE: It comes as no surprise that a traumatic impact to your teeth can cause cracks or chips that expose the underlying dentin (or even direct access to the nerve). Further, trauma to your teeth can cause abnormal growth in the underlying nerve which then becomes more sensitive and may ultimately lead to the loss of the tooth. If your teeth are sensitive to hot drinks or food, this may be an indication that your teeth have experienced a trauma.


If you find that broken/chipped teeth are sensitive, visit your dentist immediately. An x-ray can help determine the severity of the damage. In many instances, repairing the tooth can reduce sensitivity. In more extreme cases, a root canal or other dental procedures may be required to both reduce sensitivity and save the tooth from removal.