Waterloo Family Dental

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Teeth: A sensitive issue?

Girl with sensitive teeth from popsicle

Teeth can become sensitive for a variety of reasons. Most commonly patients complain about sensitivity to cold, heat, sweet, sour or acidic foods – even sucking air into your mouth may feel cold sometimes.


Sensitivity occurs when the nerves in the teeth are stimulated. Normally your teeth are protected by the enamel (over the gum line) and cementum (under the gum line or on the root).  A variety of issues can cause the teeth to be exposed:

  1. Aggressive or incorrect brushing may damage the enamel/cementum or gums
  2. Acidic foods and drinks – rinse your mouth with water after eating high-sugar foods to lessen the impact
  3. Grinding your teeth weakens the enamel
  4. Bleaching/whitening teeth can cause sensitivity in some people
  5. Gum disease or shrinking gums as we age exposes the roots of our teeth
  6. A cracked or decayed tooth or filling



Sometimes using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth helps. If that doesn’t work, your dentist can diagnose what is causing the sensitivity. There are several treatments including

  • Applying a fluoride gel or sealant
  •  Fillings to cover exposed roots
  • Applying desensitizing pastes
  • Repairing a cracked or decayed tooth
  • Getting a mouth guard fitted to prevent grinding


Many of our patients experience sensitive teeth at some point. This information might help you decide if it is a sign of something more serious that needs to be looked at. Most importantly, keep brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled brush to prevent the causes from occurring.

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