How do I decrease tooth sensitivity? This is a very common question from patients, and because it is a vague reference, and can have many sources, it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint a diagnosis.

Unless a tooth has been root canaled, there is a nerve in it, and just about anything can stimulate it and cause sensivitivty.

The list below goes through the most common sources of tooth sensitivity, and some possible ways to decrease tooth sensitivity.


If you have a cavity, the bacteria starts from the outside and works its way towards the center (where the nerve is). The close it gets, the less tooth structure there is to protect the nerve from the elements.

How do you treat it?



This is usually caused by GUM RECESSION. The root surfaces of teeth do not have the protective ENAMEL layer, so the nerve is much easier to stimulate.

How do you treat it?

FLUORIDE VARNISHES, FLUORIDE RINSES, or sometimes fillings can be placed over the exposed root surfaces. The fluoride should decrease tooth sensitivity, but it will not be an immediate cure. It does take some time and several applications of the varnish.

Whenever teeth are bleached or whitened, they are at risk for sensitivity. This will usually subside over time, but it make take anywhere from a few hours to a few months. How do you treat it? FLUORIDE rinses or other remedies will often help decrease tooth sensitivity. It is usually advised to stop further bleaching until the sensitivity subsides.
Whenever braces are tightened (or new Invisalign trays are started), the teeth are going to be sore. The teeth are moving, which causes pressure, or sometimes while teeth are being moved into the proper position, they are in a position that can be uncomfortable when you chew or bite down. Medications such as Ibuprofen can help, but unfortunately it's part of living with braces.


There are ingredients in TARTAR CONTROL and WHITENING toothpastes which can increase sensitivity. Usually this will subside once use of the toothpaste is ceased.

Livionex is a new tooth gel which is designed to actually break up the plaque and prevent it from forming on your teeth.  It is a bit more expensive than conventional toothpastes, but if it prevent you from needing 1 filling or losing any teeth, it's well worth the price.


See EXPOSED ROOTS. If you have lost supporting bone around the teeth, more root surfaces will be exposed.


Fillings remove tooth structure, and transmit elements such as cold more readily than tooth structure. Most of the time the sensitivity is temporary, but it may take months to fully subside. On the other hand, if the sensitivity does not subside, you may end up needing a root canal.


Same phenomenon as fillings.


If a partial is too tight or puts abnormal stress on a tooth or teeth, it can cause some sensitivity. Your dentist may need to adjust the partial to remedy this situation.


If a tooth is fractured, the crack allows the elements a nice path towards the center of the tooth, or into an inner layer of the tooth, which more easily stimulates the nerve.


This includes GRINDING, clenching, or any other activity not related to the teeth, but not involving chewing.  Grinding and clenching of the teeth is very common, and usually a nightguard or some sort of split will decrease tooth sensitivity.

Keep in mind that there are other factors that can cause sensitivity.  But, if sensitivity persist or increase… it becomes,


So you have a TOOTHACHE .

Again, there are many possible causes. Anything that causes sensitivity can also cause pain.

If you are having lingering sensations to stimuli like cold water, coffee, or chewing, or if it hurts out of the blue or wakes you up at night, you need to see your dentist. 

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