In an ideal world of oral health, no one would wince in pain if they bit into an ice-cream sandwich or when they sipped a steaming cup of tea. Unfortunately, sensitive teeth affect more than half the dental patients in the U.S. (according to this report from Colgate). Below, we’ll outline the symptoms, causes, and treatments of this painful affliction.


Teeth sensitivity means the patient experiences pain or discomfort in the mouth when teeth are exposed to sweet, sour, or acidic foods and beverages at hot and/or cold temperatures. The pain does not have to be constant; in fact, many patients say the discomfort strikes only occasionally.


When teeth lose enough enamel, heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. The main causes of enamel loss are:

A dentist's mirror shows hidden tooth decay

We can find the source of your sensitive teeth.

–      Tooth decay (cavities)

–      Fractured teeth

–      Worn fillings

–      Gum disease

–      Exposed tooth root

Potential Treatments

–      Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.

–      Fluoride gel. An in-office technique that strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.

–      A crown, inlay or bonding. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.

–      Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.

–      Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.

Tips for Our Jacksonville Patients

Finding the right treatment is crucial. Some patients may need a new toothbrush; others may need a gum graft. Our approach is to find the source of the problem as early as possible. This way, the more economic options such as desensitizing toothpastes and fluoride gels can be much more effective. If you wait too long to make an appointment, expensive gum grafts or root canals may be the only options left.

Brushing technique is also important. In general, we recommend that our patients choose a toothbrush that has SOFT bristles. Hard bristles can actually damage your gums. In addition, there are many exciting innovations with electronic toothbrushes. At your dental check-up, we will be able to review brushing techniques and make recommendations for the best toothbrush option for you.

If you experience any pain while eating or drinking, contacting your dentist is a good idea. We are always willing to help the people in our Jacksonville community with all of their dental care needs. So don’t hesitate to call our office at 904-384-4391 and schedule an appointment.