How to Handle Sensitive Teeth

Woman eating ice cream holding her jaw in pain indicating tooth ache

What are Sensitive Teeth?

If you experience pain after eating a popsicle or drinking hot coffee, you may have sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity, or “dentin hypersensitivity,” is pain or discomfort caused by different stimuli.

Specifically, sensitive teeth are triggered by hot and cold foods, sweet or acidic foods, alcohol-based mouth rinses, and hot and cold beverages. You may feel this pain at the root of the affected tooth, and symptoms may range from mild to intense.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

People who have naturally thinner enamel may experience tooth sensitivity. However, sensitive teeth can also be caused by brushing your teeth too hard, using a hard-bristled toothbrush, grinding your teeth, or regularly eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages.

Other conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), gastroparesis, and bulimia can also break down enamel over time and cause tooth sensitivity.

How to Treat Sensitive Teeth

1. Check Your Toothpaste

Is your toothpaste explicitly designed for sensitive teeth? If not, you may want to head to your local convenience store. Purchasing toothpaste labeled as “desensitizing” helps shield nerve endings from irritants and blocks certain pain signals.

2. Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush

The American Dental Association recommends that everyone brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day, with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Hard-bristled toothbrushes can negatively impact your tooth’s enamel and your gums as well, which is why they are not recommended to anyone, especially someone with sensitive teeth.

3. Mouth Rinses

Hydrogen Peroxide

While you may have used hydrogen peroxide in the past to heal cuts, burns, and other wounds to prevent infection, you may not have known it can also be used as a mouth rinse! Because hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic and disinfectant, it not only helps heal wounds but your gums as well.

By adding two caps of hydrogen peroxide to equal parts warm water and swishing the solution in your mouth for up to 30 seconds, you can prevent inflammation in your mouth. Be sure to spit out the solution after your rinse so as not to swallow it.


Saltwater is often used as an antiseptic that reduces inflammation. Saltwater rinses are known to help with canker sores but can also be used to alleviate pain caused by sensitive teeth.

Mix about ½ tsp of salt with warm water to create the rinse. Gargle the solution for up to 30 seconds twice a day before spitting out the solution.

Honey and Warm Water

Honey has many nutritional benefits and pairs well with tea, fruit, nuts, and cheese. However, it also has a lot of healing agents as well. In fact, honey can help speed healing and reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.

To promote oral healing and reduce pain, rinse your mouth with a spoonful of honey and warm water. While these are both non-toxic ingredients, we recommend spitting the mixture out after rinsing.

4. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract may taste delicious in your favorite recipe, but it also contains antiseptic and pain-relieving properties! If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, pour vanilla extract onto a cotton ball and apply it to your gums for a few minutes. This process can be repeated as often as necessary. You can also apply this trick to teething babies.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is used frequently for cooking but is also widely known for its anti-inflammatory effects. To alleviate pain and inflammation, you can make an at-home paste that enhances wound healing.

Use a teaspoon of turmeric, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon of mustard oil to make this paste. Apply the paste to your sensitive teeth and gums twice a day for pain relief.

How Dentistry By Design Can Help

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, you should make an appointment with our office to examine the health of your teeth. Because cavities can cause tooth sensitivity, it is important to make sure there are no underlying issues taking place.

Once the dentist diagnoses you with tooth sensitivity, the medical experts at Dentistry By Design can apply fluoride treatments to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain.

Call (931) 771-8500 to schedule your appointment today!

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