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Dealing with Hypersensitivity

Dealing with Hypersensitivity


Question: Why do I feel tooth pain when drinking a hot or cold beverage?

If your dentist has ruled out other dental problems that are causing discomfort, such as a cavity or an abscess, the sensitivity may be the result of worn tooth enamel or an exposed tooth root.


A layer of enamel protects the crowns of health teeth. A layer called cementum protects the tooth root under the gum line. Underneath the enamel and cementum is dentin, a part of the tooth that is less dense. When the dentin loses its protective covering, the small hallow canals will stimulate the nerves and cells inside the tooth. This causes hypersensitivity and momentary discomfort. The irritation does not cause permanent damage to the pulp.

Hypersensitive tooth

Sensitive teeth can be treated. Your dentist may suggest that you try desensitizing toothpaste. Desensitizing toothpaste contains compounds that help block transmission from sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. Desensitizing toothpaste may require several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.


If the desensitizing toothpaste does not work, your dentist may suggest in-office techniques to correct the problem. A fluoride gel may be applied to strengthen the tooth enamel and reduce the transmission of sensation.


If receding gums cause the sensitivity, your dentist may use dentin bonding agents, which bond to the tooth root and protects the tooth. Your dentist may also suggest sealing the sensitive tooth to protect and reduce sensitivity.


In some cases where hypersensitivity is sever and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend endodontic treatment to eliminate the problem.

Provided as an educational resource of the American Dental Association

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