Tooth sensitivity

Numerous studies have shown that over 50% of the population experiences tooth sensitivity. While tooth sensitivity is generally not harmful to your teeth, it can be highly uncomfortable and painful. It is characterized by brief, sharp pain in the teeth triggered by various stimuli, such as hot, cold, sweet foods and drinks or cold air.



Tooth sensitivity is often a result of exposed tooth roots that are typically covered by either tooth enamel or gum tissue. Exposure of dentin, the layer beneath the enamel containing nerve endings, occurs. Dentin consists of small tubules that are open and lead to nerves. Symptoms of sensitive teeth arise when these nerves are exposed to external changes.


Throughout life, the enamel on the tooth root becomes thinner and wears down, often accelerated by years of improper or vigorous brushing. Enamel can also crack due to excessive chewing forces from nighttime teeth clenching or misaligned bite (malocclusion). Tooth root exposure can also occur due to gum recession and bone loss from periodontal disease, leading to exposed roots susceptible to external stimuli. Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by high consumption of acidic foods and drinks and excessive use of teeth whitening products. Dental treatments may also induce tooth sensitivity, but these effects should diminish within 4-6 weeks after the treatment.



If tooth sensitivity is causing discomfort, the first step should be visiting a dentist who will conduct a thorough examination, rule out other potential causes and confirm that the issue is indeed tooth sensitivity.


Crucial information for the dentist is the duration of sensitivity.

  • If pain occurs suddenly and starts to subside after about 10 seconds, it is likely tooth sensitivity.
  • If the pain lasts longer than that, suspicion of nerve inflammation may arise.
Tooth sensitivity can be treated with specially formulated products (toothpaste, gels, varnishes) applied professionally by a dentist in the office. These products work by sealing the dentinal tubules, preventing irritation of the tooth nerve.


Depending on the cause of sensitivity, solutions may include:

  • placing a new or replacing an old filling
  • creating a bruxism splint
  • orthodontic treatment for malocclusion correction
  • changing detrimental habits.

PREVENTION – what can we do to prevent tooth sensitivity?


  • adopting the correct brushing technique with a soft toothbrush and gentle circular motions
  • using fluoride-based toothpaste
  • reducing consumption of acidic foods and drinks
  • avoiding immediate tooth brushing after consuming acidic items (wait for an hour)
  • correcting misaligned bite
  • wearing a bruxism splint to prevent enamel damage.

If you suffer from (increased) tooth sensitivity, contact us with full confidence, as we can effectively address your issue.


Dr. Ivona Vukušić