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by Lori Herren June 11, 2020 6 min read

An ice cream cone, a big, hot, juicy cheeseburger, a fruity popsicle. Your mouth just waters thinking about these fantastic foods. Then reality sets in and your mouth and teeth start to hurt just thinking about trying to bite these extreme temperature delicacies. Numerous studies have shown that on average, one in eight people suffer with sensitive teeth. It takes a really long time to eat two scoops of ice cream when you can’t bite right into your cone! Dentinal Hypersensitivity (DH) is defined as sharp dental pain that is derived from exposed dentin (an inner layer of the tooth). Dentin encompasses thousands of microscopic tubules, better explained as channels, that lead to the tooth's core, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. When they are exposed to the elements, these dentinal tubules allow heat, cold, acidic or even sticky substances to reach the nerves inside the tooth, which can cause tooth pain and sensitivity. So, if you were curious what was keeping you from enjoying that ice cream cone or hot bowl of soup, there you go! Surprised your tooth sensitivity has a real medical name? Don't be surprised. As you will see, there is a whole system to sensitive teeth, what causes them, and how to help ease your pain when trying to enjoy your favorite foods.

The Sensitive Teeth Experience

What is it like to experience life with sensitive teeth everyday? It varies from person to person, but the symptoms are no fun and can be down right aggravating! Each of the following normal, everyday things can cause tooth pain and discomfort for those who suffer with tooth sensitivity.

  • Cold and hot foods and beverages (extreme temperatures)
  • Outside cold air (extreme temperature)
  • Foods and Drinks with high sugar content
  • Foods and Drinks with high acid level, acidic foods (lemonade, orange juice, tomato juice, citric fruits)
  • Cold beverages, containing lots of ice
  • Pain and sensitivity during brushing or flossing teeth
  • Mouthwash with high alcohol content

The funny thing is, sometimes you will notice ALL of these symptoms, sometimes you will only experience a few of them. Sometimes you are symptom free. It’s an interesting problem to bear, especially when you never know which symptom will hit and when. At times the pain may be severe, at other times very mild to almost unnoticeable. 

Causes of Sensitive Teeth

There are plenty of underlying conditions and causes of tooth sensitivity that a lot of people are not aware contribute to the issue. The most common cause being the fact that there is a present condition of a thinning layer of enamel on the teeth. Enamel is the outer layer of the tooth that is most visible and made of minerals. It protects your teeth from plaque, acids and the sensitive inner layers from the harshness of extreme temperatures. Some things and habits that can wear down tooth enamel are: 

  • Hard, vigorous tooth brushing
  • Hard, stiff bristles on a toothbrush
  • Night time teeth grinding during sleep
  • Consistent practice of eating or drinking high acidic foods or beverages

Medical Conditions That Can Affect Your Teeth

Thinning of tooth enamel isn't the only condition that causes sensitive teeth. There are several diagnosed medical conditions that contribute to the cause and plight of sensitive teeth, and some may surprise you!

  • GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux) acid reflux
  • Conditions that cause frequent vomiting, like bulimia or gastroparesis
  • Receding gums
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Dental work
  • Teeth bleaching/whitening

If you are experiencing any of these “sensitive teeth” symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. It’s always good to have your teeth examined to see if a cause to your tooth sensitivity can be pinpointed and treated by your dentist or dental professional. An exam and x-rays can rule out any cavities or broken/chipped teeth that you may not be aware of or be able to see. Your dentist is always your best go-to for treatment, advice and help when it comes to your oral health.




How To “Bite Back” At Sensitive Teeth

If these symptoms and conditions have “hit a nerve” with you, there is good news! Most mild cases of sensitive teeth can be treated by YOU! This has long been an issue for MANY people so numerous companies have stepped up over the years and developed products to ease and calm the effects and pain of sensitive teeth. It’s become quite common to see specially developed toothpaste, gels, and mouthwashes dedicated to combating and easing the pain of tooth sensitivity. You can walk down the toothpaste aisle at your local grocery store or pharmacy and pick out several kinds of “sensitive teeth” toothpaste in every brand of toothpaste manufactured today. One more comforting way to know you are not alone in your plight. If every brand of toothpaste has one kind of paste specially dedicated to those with sensitive teeth, it’s obviously a common problem. These toothpastes are not miracle cures. It takes several times of use to notice a difference and regular use to continue to see results and consistency in the reduction of your tooth sensitivity. Ask your dentist or hygienist which sensitive toothpaste they recommend for you to try first. If these at-home treatments don’t help there are prescription toothpastes and mouthwash that your dentist may consider giving you. Some dentists also offer an in-office treatment of fluoride gel or desensitizing agents that you can try to soothe your tooth pain.

Bite The Pain With A Good Toothbrush

Another helpful resource for your dental arsenal is a good, soft, gentle toothbrush. Never use a hard or firm toothbrush, especially when dealing with sensitive teeth. The stiff, firm bristles will only irritate your already sensitive teeth and they may also cause further damage to your enamel. Make a concerted effort to practice brushing “softer” as you seek to treat the issue. There is a common misconception that if you don’t brush hard you’re not getting all the plaque and debris from your teeth. Gentle brushing is still effective brushing. You can ask your dental hygienist to show you some good techniques for effective gentle brushing without causing any further damage to your enamel. There are several different kinds of toothbrushes for those that deal with sensitive teeth. Two very effective brushes for sensitivity and special oral care needs are theBrilliant Sensitive Toothbrushand theBrilliant Special Soft Toothbrush.

For Sensitive Teeth Warriors

TheBrilliant Sensitive Toothbrushcontains over 18,000 microfine bristles that are soft and allow for a gentle clean without irritating your tender gums and sensitive teeth.The Brilliant Sensitive Toothbrush was designed for those with sensitive needs to have gentle, everyday oral care using multidirectional bristle technology that actually polishes your teeth, instead of sweeping them like an ordinary, flat, one-sided toothbrush. Whether your sensitivity and tooth pain come from coping with an illness that affects your teeth and gums, loss of enamel, or sensory issues, the Brilliant Sensitive Toothbrush will help ease your tooth sensitivity and make brushing easier for you and your battle with tooth pain.

For Extra Special Care

Brushing your teeth can be really painful for those who are faced with the side effects from certain health conditions. TheBrilliant Special Soft Toothbrush was specifically designed for these special people and their special circumstances. It contains the softest and largest amount of bristles of all the manual toothbrushes in the Brilliant family, over 21,000 to be exact! This brush is designed for those that deal with soreness and/or strong sensitivity brought on by cancer treatment, sensory processing disorders, autism, or other forms of special needs. Brushing your teeth should never be something you dread because of pain or discomfort. These are just two examples of toothbrushes created with sensitive teeth sufferers in mind.

Now you know that sensitive teeth are a common problem, maybe more so than you originally thought. And there are worlds of products available to help you, anywhere and everywhere you look. Take advantage of these great products on the market so you can take back the joy of biting into an ice cream cone without wanting to scream in pain. The possibility of no tooth pain no matter what you eat or drink is enough to make you want to find a new toothbrush, a new toothpaste and a pain-free way of life! There is help and hope available to you!




Lori Herren
Lori Herren

Lori D. Herren is a graduate of the University of West Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications for Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations, with minors in Marketing and Music. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and pursuing her love of music.


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