• The Tooth Doctors

Help! My Teeth are Sensitive!

By Jen

As a dental hygienist I hear this often! Many people have tooth sensitivity.

The most common cause of sensitivity is receding gums.


Recession is the gradual loss of gum tissue at the root of the tooth. Gum recession is a common problem in adults over the age of 40, but can also occur in younger adults.



There are a number of causes of recession:

  • the most common being gum disease

  • aggressive tooth brushing

  • misalignment of teeth

  • clenching

  • sometimes orthodontics

  • tobacco use

Recession is a progressive disease, which gradually causes root exposure.


Usually, patient's notice when their teeth move or they are sensitive.


Treating early signs of gum disease is key to preventing recession.

Managing Recession


  • For gum disease, talk to your hygienist about how you can best manage your disease. They might recommend laser therapy or coming in for more frequent teeth cleanings.


  • Using a soft bristled tooth brush or electric tooth brush with light pressure will avoid trauma to the gums and help eliminate recession.  Both proper home care and regular dental hygiene visits can aid in prevention of further damage.


  • If your teeth are misaligned, braces or Invisalign might be needed to put your teeth in the proper position for your gums to cease their recession.


  • If you clench, talk to your dentist about your bite. Clenching is often caused by stress. Physical exercise, relaxing walks, yoga, or mediation might be just the thing your teeth needs.


  • Ironically, orthodontics that aim to provide a better bite and minimize the risk for receding gums may, in fact, help cause them. If you have recession and had braces in the past, talk to your hygienist about it.


  • If you are a smoker, stopping smoking or reducing your tobacco intake can have an impact on your gum recession.


  • Your hygienist may recommend using desensitizing toothpaste to help with your tooth sensitivity. There is also a fluoride varnish your hygienist can put on your exposed roots that will protect the sensitive part of your tooth for a few months.


These can all prevent further damage but how do you fix the damage already done?


Fixing the Recession


A procedure known as “gum graft surgery” can be performed by a dentist or periodontist (a dental specialist who works on gums) to help cover the recession on the tooth surface.  


Good dental hygiene is your best defence against oral health problems, including gum recession.

If you are experiencing gingival recession, let us know and we would be happy to discuss options that may be available to you.

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