Dental hypersensitivity: causes and treatment

Now that summer is approaching, with the increase in ambient temperature, the consumption of particularly cold foods or drinks such as soft drinks with lots of ice or ice cream is more common. This is not the only reason, but consuming cold foods or drinks can trigger discomfort or pain in our teeth due to tooth hypersensitivity. In this article we will see what this pathology consists of and some tips for its treatment.


What is dental hypersensitivity?

There dental hypersensitivity It is a brief, sharp pain that arises from exposed dentin in response to a stimulus, usually thermal (hot or cold), tactile, osmotic or chemical, and cannot be attributed to any other dental defect or pathology.

What causes dental hypersensitivity?

In most cases, it appears due to wear of the tooth surface (enamel) or a problem of gingival retraction.

Beneath the enamel and root cementum is dentin, which contains thousands of microscopic tubules (dentinal tubules) that connect the outside of the tooth to nerve endings.

When the dentin loses its protective layer, the tubules are exposed, allowing external stimuli to reach the nerve endings, causing pain.

Teeth whitening or treatment for periodontitis can also cause tooth hypersensitivity and we will discuss these cases in more detail in future articles.


There dental hypersensitivity It has features similar to other diseases such as cavities and fractured or chipped enamel or dentin or pain due to reversible pulpitis or tenderness that can occur after teeth whitening treatment.

As these diseases and conditions also cause pain and sensations similar to dental hypersensitivitybefore establishing a definitive diagnosis, these diseases must be ruled out before applying a specific treatment against dental hypersensitivity.

Once our diagnosis is confirmed, we can reproduce the stimuli that produce the sensitivity to confirm the affected tooth and the exact site where the pain is occurring. One of the ways to detect the affected tooth is to apply to the teeth:

  • Thermal stimuli: cold and/or hot stimuli. The cold is the most common. We can apply hot or cold water, sprays, etc.
  • Air: with a syringe, we apply air to each tooth until we detect the one that causes pain in the patient.
  • Osmotic stimuli: we give the patient glucose solutions to drink that can generate the sensation of pain so that the patient can tell us where the pain is.
  • Tactile stimuli: Touch the cervical area of ​​the tooth with exploration probes.

Preventive treatment of dental hypersensitivity

The first thing we recommend to our patients diagnosed with dental hypersensitivity is the elimination of the factors that cause pain with a series of recommendations such as the use of a correct and gentle brushing technique for the surface of the teeth, eliminate premature contactstreatment of gingival recessions in cases where necessary and avoidance of acid ingestion and reduction of exogenous/endogenous acid production, etc.

In the case of mild hypersensitivity, it can usually be managed well with home treatment by working with frictionless, protective and clean oral hygiene products such as special toothpastes, mouthwashes, chewing gums – gum, etc.

In the event that one of the teeth is particularly affected and this conservative treatment is not enough, your dentist can strengthen and protect your teeth. teeth with hypersensitivity with composites, fluoride varnishes, potassium oxalate and glass ionomer cementwhich we will explain in future articles.

Tips to avoid the discomfort of tooth hypersensitivity

• Avoid diets rich in acids: citrus fruits, soft drinks…

• Do not brush your teeth right after eating acidic foods.

• Avoid sudden temperature changes while eating food.

• Avoid putting foreign bodies in the mouth that cause tooth wear (pens, nails, etc.).

• Brush your teeth with a toothbrush with soft filaments so as not to damage the enamel or the gums and for more gentleness when brushing.

• Use a mildly abrasive gel or paste so as not to damage the surface of the teeth and cause minimal discomfort when brushing.

And always remember our main advice: if you have a problem with your teeth, consult your dentist. He is the one who will know best what to do to solve any evil.

And don’t let summer make you “hypersensitive”. 😉

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