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  • Anderson Family Dental

Sensitive Teeth: Causes and Remedies

Do you avoid ice cream because it feels like needles in your teeth? Does a nice hot cup of soup come with a side of ouch? Does the idea of chewing on almonds sound like a nightmare?

Sensitive tooth as dental hygienist works

Most adults suffer with sensitive teeth at some point in their life. When we talk about sensitivity, we’re not talking about aching, throbbing, or acute pain. The word sensitivity applies more to chronic discomfort that’s associated with a specific trigger. It may be mild or fairly intense, and may be regional or happen only in one or two teeth. 

If you are having a problem with pain, don’t hesitate to call your dental team here at Anderson Family Dental! If you think you may have a problem, we always recommend coming in to let us take a look. Better safe than sorry!

But if you’re like 1 in 8 Americans and suffer with sensitivity, read on!


Cold is the most common sensitivity trigger. Your teeth have tiny microscopic pores, each of which has fluid and a tiny hair-like extension of the nerve inside. When a cold drink hits those pores, the fluid inside shrinks suddenly and vibrates the nerve fiber. And it can nearly send you through the roof!

Cold sensitivity can happen with issues like recession or wear on your teeth. Grinding and clenching can also make your teeth sensitive. So can lack of mineral in your saliva. Your dental team can help narrow down the root cause for you.

The first line of defense against cold sensitivity is toothpaste. There are many anti-sensitivity toothpastes on the market, and they have a few different ways they work. Some block up the pores in the teeth, and some deactivate those tiny nerve fibers. You may need to experiment to find the right fit for you. Talk to your dentist or hygienist to see if you need prescription-strength products.

Sometimes, cold sensitivity can happen because of a cavity or crack, so if it seems out of the ordinary for your teeth, please don’t ignore it!


Heat sensitivity is a little more complicated than cold sensitivity. Some people’s teeth are sensitive to heat in exactly the same way as cold sensitivity, described above. And similar treatments will usually work for those cases, too. 

However, if you get “zingers” from a sip of hot coffee, it’s worth getting checked out. Many times, heat sensitivity can point to serious problems. Heat sensitivity may mean the nerve inside the tooth has started to die. It’s sometimes an early indication that a root canal therapy is in your future. If heat makes your teeth sing, it’s best to get it checked out before the tooth becomes infected or an abscess forms.


Pressure sensitivity usually happens when you bite on something hard or chewy. The most common culprits are almonds, gummies, or seeds. This is another kind of sensitivity that is best not to ignore!

Grinding and clenching, which may happen while you’re asleep, can put a lot of strain on the roots of your teeth, making them sensitive to biting pressure while you’re awake. Likewise, if your bite is “off,” or does not match up properly, it can put extra pressure on certain teeth, straining their roots. Cracks can also create pain with biting. In short, this one may need some professional intervention.

Whenever possible, we try to prevent pain before it starts. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with regular oral wellness exams here in our office. Ideally, we’ll spot potential problems before they start talking to you. However, if sensitivity does strike, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We can help you get to the root of the problem and get you back to enjoying your favorite foods and drinks!


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