Do you avoid popsicles, ice cream, and frozen fruit? Use a straw when drinking hot or cold liquids? Find yourself in pain at even the thought of a dental exam? You’re dealing with sensitive teeth – and you don’t have to put up with the discomfort.

When your teeth react strongly to outside stimuli, you just can’t go about your days in the usual way. Life is stressful enough: don’t let constant twinges make it even more complicated. With this sensitivity primer, you can learn more about why your smile is so sensitive, how to protect your sensitivity-prone teeth, and treatment options to rebuild enamel.

If you ever have questions about what might be right for your own sensitivity, please, give us a call. We’ll help you take the right steps to feel better and return comfort to your smile.

Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?


Each tooth is composed of several layers, the outermost being your enamel. This is the hardest substance in the body, and it does its best to protect the inner areas of your teeth, including the sensitive tooth nerves. While your enamel’s thickness is determined during tooth development, there are steps you can take during daily life to help protect it and even remineralize it.

Why protect your enamel? Because the effects of time tend toward erosion. And when your enamel becomes weak and thins, that’s when sensitivity rears its ugly head. Some common causes of enamel erosion include:

  • Bruxism – If you grind your teeth, you’re exposing the enamel to an unnecessary amount of force. The eventual result is thinner enamel and painful teeth.
  • Gum recession – Recession can be caused by a few different dental problems/habits, and can also be a side effect of bruxing. When your gums recede, the tender tooth roots are exposed, and these can be very sensitive to hot and cold.
  • Frequent consumption of acidic liquids – Acidic drinks change the mouth’s pH, causing the enamel layer to weaken. If you commonly drink coffee, citrus juice, or cola, be sure to rinse with water afterwards or use a straw to prevent the acidic beverages from washing over your teeth.

Home Care For Tooth Sensitivity

  • Fluoride toothpaste – Fluoride helps remineralize your enamel, thickening the exterior, protective layer. If you use fluoride toothpaste once a day, you will begin noticing reduced sensitivity within 1-2 weeks. Just ask us for a product recommendation!
  • Water (instead of juice or soda) – Ah, water. It’s great for your teeth, your entire body, and your long-term health! But many of us choose other drinks because water can seem a little dull. If you’re not on the water train, it’s time to get on board – try starting with seltzer water or unsweetened flavored water if you’re reluctant. Water not only rinses away acids and food particles from your mouth, but also hydrates and replenishes your body.
  • Night guard – Cutting out your teeth grinding will make a big difference to ongoing sensitivity. Check in with us to see if you’re grinding your teeth, and to get a custom mouth guard.

Home Care For Tooth Sensitivity

If your sensitivity is severe, you may benefit from one of these longer-term treatment options.

  • Dental bonding – By adhering composite material to sensitive areas, Dr. Kim can help you protect your teeth and reduce discomfort.
  • Porcelain veneers – Veneers fit over entire teeth, forming a new, external layer and protecting the natural structures within.
  • Porcelain crowns – For teeth that aren’t strong enough for veneers, crowns will add new structure and help support your smile.

Just get in touch with any questions! Let’s make 2015 the year you overcome sensitive teeth.

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Dr. Kim Okamura

I'm Dr. Kim Okamura and this blog is a product of my love of dentistry. I dedicate it to all the patients I have served so that they may better understand my craft. The information here will give you and others the power to maintain and protect one of your most priceless gifts ... your SMILE.