Dental & Oral Health

Tooth Sensitivity - Causes, Treatment and Home remedies

Written by Dr. Honey Arora and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Image: Tooth Sensitivity - Causes, Treatment and Home remedies


Tooth Sensitivity, termed as dentinal hypersensitivity, causes short lasting sharp pain in a single tooth or multiple teeth. It occurs when teeth come in contact with hot, cold, sweet, and acidic foods or due to exposure of teeth to air.

Important Points

  1. Teeth sensitivity can cause serious discomfort and inability to eat or drink, due to the short bouts of sharp pain.
  2. It occurs when the top layer of teeth (enamel) wears off due to many causes, leading to exposure of the inner softer and sensitive layer (dentin).
  3. It affects almost 2 to 3 people, out of 10 individuals.
  4. The age group that gets affected are young adults to middle-aged people.
  5. Many treatment modalities and remedies can help in relieving sensitivity.

Major Causes

  • Vigorous Brushing: If you have a habit of brushing teeth with a lot of pressure, then you may tend to wear off the enamel layer, which will make your teeth sensitive. Other reasons can be using a very hard toothbrush, brushing teeth for long durations, and long-term use of whitening toothpaste as they have more of abrasives, which cause dental abrasion.
  • Teeth Grinding or Bruxism: The constant grinding action of teeth causes loss of enamel layer, exposing inner sensitive layer that is dentin.
  • Acidic and Citrus Food: Individuals who take ample amounts of citrus and acidic foods like soft drinks, sauces, pickles, etc. tend to lose more minerals from the teeth making them sensitive.
  • Gum Diseases: If you have deep gum infection then it can cause gum recession and root surface exposure, which will make your teeth sensitive.
  • Tooth Infection and Fracture: If you have deep decay with exposed nerves or tooth fractures due to sudden heavy biting forces or trauma, then these conditions can make your teeth sensitive.
  • Dental Treatment: Teeth can become sensitive post an orthodontic treatment, root canal treatment, broken fillings, or crown placement. But these are temporary.
  • Systemic Conditions: Certain medical conditions like acid reflux, peptic ulcers, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia can cause teeth sensitivity by dental erosion.


  • Symptoms of dental hypersensitivity include short bouts of sudden pain on exposure to hot, cold, acidic, sweet foods, and fluids. It subsides once the irritant is removed.

Treatment Options for Tooth Sensitivity

  • Desensitizing Toothpaste: For mild to moderate tooth sensitivity, individuals are advised to apply anti-sensitivity toothpaste.They work by closing or occluding the dentinal tubules. Applying the paste over the teeth and leaving it for about 30 seconds and then brushing your teeth will help in reducing sensitivity.
  • Other Agents: Certain other agents that can assist in occluding the dentinal tubules are fluoride varnish and dentine adhesives. If sensitivity does not resolve with desensitizing toothpaste, then other in-office treatment techniques are used.
  • Dental Cement: If there is any cavity or loss of tooth structure, then dental cement like glass ionomer cement, composite resins, etc. can be used. It will relieve the sensitivity as well as also repair the tooth defect.
  • Lasers: CO2 laser and Nd: YAG lasers can be used if other management techniques do not work.

Home Remedies

Following home remedies can provide you some relief from mild tooth sensitivity, although if there is some underlying pathology, then a professional advice and treatment are mandatory.

  1. Mix a tablespoon of mustard oil and rock salt, apply this gently over the teeth. Leave it for a minute and then rinse off.
  2. You should gargle with warm saline solution twice a day.


  1. You should not brush your teeth for more than two minutes. Hold your brush in a pen grip to avoid excessive pressure application and use a soft toothbrush only.
  2. Limit the intake of soft drinks, avoid acidic foods, excessive use of mouthwash. Drink plenty of water.
  3. If you have teeth grinding or clenching habit, consult your dentist and get a mouth guard made.
  4. If there is any dental problem present, get it treated as early as possible.
  5. If you have any underlying pathology like acid reflux, then treatment of the same should be done.

For more information consult a tooth sensitivity specialist online -->

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018



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