Tooth Sensitivity – Dr. Tan

Tooth sensitivity is very common.

Teeth are sensitive, if hot, cold, sweet or very acidic foods and drinks, or breathing in cold air, makes your teeth or a tooth sensitive or painful.

Tooth sensitivity is usually caused by dentin on root areas exposed due receded or unhealthy gums. Receded gums are very common and up to 80% of people have gum recession by the time they are 65.

The root is protected by a sift layer called cementum. When the root of a tooth becomes exposed and the cementum layer lost, the dentin of the root is exposed.

Overzealous brushing or using a very abrasive toothpaste can also cause abrasion of the tooth’s enamel surface and expose dentin.

A very acidic diet – for example a diet with a lot of citrus food, pickles or carbonated drinks— can cause tooth erosion and dissolve the tooth surface, exposing the dentin.

Chronic vomiting like Bulimia and GERD can also result in dental erosion and sensitivity due to acid in the mouth.

It is important to tell us if you have any sensitive teeth, so that we can examine your mouth, see if the problem is tooth sensitivity (dentin hypersensitivity) and help you choose the best treatment.

When teeth are sensitive it can be painful to brush them and if you brush poorly because of pain then there is more risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Pain after hot, cold, sweet or acidic food and drinks can also be a sign of decay with a cavity or hole in the tooth, or a sign of a broken tooth, and if this is the case we will treat you with a filling or other treatment.

Can I Prevent Tooth Sensitivity?

You can reduce your chances of getting tooth sensitivity by keeping your mouth as healthy as possible with good oral hygiene to help prevent receding gums and periodontal disease. 

Proper brushing & flossing technique can help reduce the chance that you will have tooth sensitivity. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you’re unsure!

A diet that is not acidic also helps prevent tooth sensitivity.

Ignoring your sensitive teeth can lead to other oral health problems, especially if the pain causes you to brush poorly making you vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.

What Can I Do if I Have Sensitive Teeth?

First tell your dentist, in case the cause is not dentin (root) hypersensitivity and the tooth is sensitive due to a more serious problem.

To treat tooth sensitivity, we may recommend that you use a low abrasion toothpaste specially made for sensitive teeth — a desensitizing toothpaste. These toothpastes make the teeth less sensitive if you brush with them twice a day and also contain fluoride to help protect your teeth against decay.

If there is significant lost of tooth structure, filling can be done as well.


As always, regular check up with your dentist is mandatory to save you the trouble of going through unnecessary pain & suffering from a toothache/hypersensitivity.


From your friendly neighbourhood dentist,

Dr. Tan Swee Ling

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