Tooth Sensitivity

Have you ever felt pain or discomfort after a bite of ice cream or a spoonful of hot soup? If so, you're not alone. While pain caused by hot or cold foods could be a sign of a cavity, it's also common in people who have sensitive teeth.

Tooth Sensitivity, or "dentin hypersensitivity," is exactly what it sounds like: pain or discomfort in the teeth as a response to certain stimuli, such as hot or cold temperatures.

The most common triggers include:


Hot foods
& beverages


Cold foods
& beverages


Sweet foods
& beverages


Acidic foods
& beverages




Brushing or
flossing teeth


Alcohol - based
Mouth rinses

Your symptoms may come and go over time for no obvious reason. They may range from mild to intense. It may be temporary or a chronic problem, and it can affect one tooth, several teeth, or all the teeth in a single individual. It can have a number of different causes, but most cases of sensitive teeth are easily treated with a change in your oral hygiene regimen.

Some people naturally have more sensitive teeth than others due to having thinner enamel. The enamel is the outer layer of the tooth that protects it. In many cases, the tooth's enamel can be worn down from:

  • Regularly eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages
  • Gum recession - this leaves sections of the tooth exposed and unprotected
  • Using a hard toothbrush
  • Brushing your teeth too hard
  • Grinding your teeth (Bruxism)
  • Tooth decay, broken teeth, chipped teeth, and worn-down fillings or crowns can leave the dentin of the tooth exposed. If this is the case, you'll likely only feel sensitivity in one particular tooth or region in the mouth.
  • Medical conditions like Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), for example, can cause acid to come up from the stomach and esophagus, and may wear down teeth over time.
  • Conditions that cause frequent vomiting — including gastroparesis and bulimia — can also cause acid to wear down the enamel.

Dentinal hypersensitivity, or tooth sensitivity, is a common dental problem. It's a condition that can develop over time, as a result of common problems such as receding gums and/or enamel wear. Most sufferers are between 20 and 50 years old. Tooth sensitivity can start to happen when the softer, inner part of the tooth called 'dentin' becomes exposed. Dentin is the “sensitive layer" and it lies under the enamel and the gums.

Thousands of microscopic channels run through the dentine towards the centre of the tooth. Once the dentine is exposed, external triggers (such as a cold drink) can stimulate the nerves inside the tooth, causing the characteristic short, sharp sensation of tooth sensitivity.

Our dental specialist at Therapeuo can confirm you have dentinal hypersensitivity. If you are diagnosed with dentinal hypersensitivity, you can help to minimise further exposure of the dentin, care for your sensitive teeth and relieve the symptoms by making some simple changes to your daily oral care routine and dietary habits.

If you've ever winced after an unwelcome sensation of tooth sensitivity, you're not the only one. But remember, there can be many different causes of dental sensation, other than tooth sensitivity. So, if you are feeling any discomfort, especially if it persists, the best thing you can do is visit your dentist and seek professional advice.

Other reasons for tooth sensation including Tooth Decay

Tooth decay or cavities

Sensation caused by tooth decay (dental caries or dental cavities) can feel similar to tooth sensitivity. Tooth decay happens when the sugars in foods and drinks react with the bacteria in the plaque on our teeth to form acids. These acids can gradually soften and dissolve your enamel and dentine. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and regular application of fluoride varnish by your dental specialist will help to strengthen your teeth.
The problem with tooth decay is that you might not feel any sensation from it until it's quite advanced. It can be managed in the early stages. So, even if you don't feel any sensation, it's important to go for regular dental check-ups so that your dentist can spot early signs of tooth decay and work with you to manage it.

After dental treatment

It is not uncommon for your teeth to feel sensitive for a time after having dental treatment. However, if this persists contact your dentist for advice.

Tooth sensitivity after filling

Some people may experience tooth sensitivity after having a cavity filled or a filling replaced. This is especially more so in deep fillings close to the nerve of the tooth. The tooth decay that causes cavities irritates the tooth, and the filling procedure, while necessary, can lead to further sensitivity. Fortunately, tooth sensitivity after a tooth coloured filling should improve on its own within a few weeks. It may last longer, as much as a few months, but as long as the tooth sensitivity shows gradual improvement, there should be nothing to worry about. Persistent tooth sensitivity, however, may indicate that a root canal is needed.
Sometimes after a filling, teeth become sensitive when biting down. This can be fixed with a simple bite adjustment. Additionally, the filling may be too high. In this case, our dental specialist would lower the filling.
Composite fillings (tooth coloured fillings) may cause tooth sensitivity when chewing. However, there is no pain when the teeth are clenched together. This tooth sensitivity is usually fixed by adjusting the bite or replacing the filling with another composite.

Tooth sensitivity after whitening treatments

Teeth-whitening treatments — done either in a dentist's office or using an over-the-counter product which may contain harsh chemicals that remove stains, but they can also remove the enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity. A 2016 study in Lasers in Medical Science found that irradiating teeth with a low-level red laser with an infrared diode after a whitening treatment reduced pain levels significantly. A 2018 study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association found that applying a densitizing gel before whitening significantly reduced tooth sensitivity after treatment.
We at Therapeuo offer the best in terms of whitening treatments. We provide a laser whitening which lasts no longer than 8 minutes ensuring the least possible chance of post-operative sensitivity.
Other common causes of tooth discomfort include dental abscesses and cracked teeth. It is important to visit your dentist regularly to check the health of your teeth and gums. If you feel any discomfort, particularly if it persists, contact your dentist for advice

If you're experiencing tooth sensitivity for the first time, do not sit idle. Attend to it immediately and call us for an appointment. We will look at the health of your teeth and check for potential problems like cavities, loose fillings, or recessed gums that could be causing the sensitivity. We will also take an OPG X-ray (full mouth dental scan) to help diagnose your problem.

Depending on your tooth sensitivity we will either change your oral hygiene methods, prescribe better toothpastes and mouth rinses or carry out treatment (tooth fillings, gum procedures, mouthguards etc) to relieve your pain.

If you have an underlying medical condition that has caused the sensitivity (GERD, Bulimia, Hyper acidity etc) usually treating these underlying causes would help ease the pain. This would be the first step in our treatment plan to help you get better.

Did You Know ?

Your teeth may be temporarily sensitive following dental work like getting fillings, crowns, or teeth bleaching. In this case, sensitivity will also be confined to one tooth or the teeth surrounding the tooth that received dental work. This should subside after several days.

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