Sensitive teeth

gumline fillings

What do I do about my sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth is a very common issue dentists deal with.

What causes teeth to be sensitive?

There are A LOT of patients with sensitive teeth and the issue is generally one of two things or a combination of the two.

  1. Overusing a whitening product, often a whitening toothpaste or whitening mouthwash
  2. Exposed roots that may or may not have advanced into cervical lesions (in layman’s terms= grooves that form on the gumline of teeth after the root of the tooth has become exposed).

The first problem is easy to fix, just cut back on the whitening products.  The second problem has several options and the choice of treatment depends on the severity of the esthetics and the sensitivity.

Sensitivity is occurring because small pores in teeth allow water pressure to flow back and forth, which our body senses as pain.  To eliminate this pain we need to clog these small pores with something.  There are several mineral and chemical products that do this and your dentist will likely have an array of different options.

Products we use in the dental office to stop teeth from being sensitive

  1. Fluoride varnish=a sticky substance high in fluoride that clogs the channels with fluoride
  2. Gluma that contains a powerful fixative/disinfectant that clogs that channels with proteins
  3. Arginine is one of our favorites. We use Colgate Professional Sensitivity Relief Serum
  4. Oxalate products like Crest Sensi-Stop Strips. This product is no longer available and we really miss it. Dipotassium oxalate monohydrate is the oxalate in the Sensi-Strip.

Products you can use at home

  1. Desensitizing toothpastes that usually contain potassium salt to clog the holes (takes 2 weeks to start to work but probably best long term solution)
  2. MI paste (a prescription gel) that clogs the holes with calcium and fluoride

Most of these products work OK but are not perfect and must be continually used to be effective.  Research has shown that the use of potassium-, stannous fluoride-, calcium sodium phosphosilicate- and arginine-containing desensitizing toothpaste all work to some extent for dentine hypersensitivity.  EBD 2016 Levenson  To really eliminate the sensitivity you must cover the exposed area permanently with something.

Permanent dental solutions

  1. Cover with tissue – great but requires minor surgery and costs more
  2. Cover with white fillings – cheaper and very effective (see below)
  3. Combination like seen here


Here you can see cervical lesions covered with composite and it’s obvious that natural teeth look more natural than teeth with old crowns that have metal underneath and the black line of metal is exposed.