Let’s get to the bottom of tooth sensitivity


  Posted by: Dental Design      4th September 2023

Current figures show that around 31% of UK adults experience tooth sensitivity,[i] but the actual figures are likely to be much higher. As you know, tooth sensitivity can range from subtle pangs of discomfort to searing, shooting pain. The causes of tooth sensitivity are numerous, but do your patients know that many common habits and lifestyle choices can influence its prevalence and severity? This can be anything from diet to incorrect brushing techniques and tooth whitening treatment.

The culprits

The causes of tooth sensitivity are manifold and the impact it can have on a person’s life is extensive. The odd twinge here and there when drinking a hot or cold drink can be a shock, but it might not prompt a patient to book a dental appointment. However, sharp, searing pain that is continuous can be a cause of significant distress – eating and speaking might become difficult, and this can have a severe impact on a person’s quality of life.[ii]Tooth sensitivity results from a myriad of dental conditions, such as bruxism, gum recession due to age or caries: it can also occur due to other health conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and eating disorders like bulimia.[iii]

While these conditions require professional intervention, there are other causes of tooth sensitivity that result from everyday habits and lifestyle choices.

Everyday habits that contribute to pain

The dental team are always promoting the importance of a thorough oral hygiene routine: twice-daily brushing for 2 minutes with a fluoridated toothpaste – but are your patients brushing softly enough? Some patients may believe that brushing harshly is more effective at removing stains and plaque, but as you know the opposite is often true. As overzealous brushing causes abrasion to both tooth dentine and the gingival tissues, patients may find that they are experiencing tooth sensitivity.[iv] In fact, research suggests that those experiencing tooth sensitivity may brush harder and for longer periods of time compared to those without the condition.iv

As diet plays a monumental role in the health of the oral cavity, it is vital that the dental team broach this topic when treating patients who report sensitivity. Acidic foods and drinks are leading causes of extrinsic erosion, which causes tooth sensitivity, among other complications.iv Foods such as citrus and other fruits like apples, blueberries, pineapples and grapes are considered highly-acidic, in addition to fruit juices, fizzy drinks (both normal and sugar-free) and coffee.[v]

Another leading cause of tooth sensitivity is the use of whitening dentifrices.iii  Peroxide agents are largely thought to be the culprits of sensitivity, as they can penetrate deep into the dental pulp,iii meaning that for many patients undergoing whitening treatment, sensitivity is a common side effect.  With tooth whitening now a highly-popular treatment option, dental professionals should be aiding patients when making better-informed decisions, so they can enjoy a whiter smile without the common side effects.

Whitening, the safer way

Tooth sensitivity resulting from a tooth whitening procedure is, arguably, of particular concern to the dental profession. For many patients, professional whitening is not always feasible, but rather than gain advice and guidance from a professional, some take matters into their own hands when it comes to whitening their teeth. This includes home remedies and hacks that could lead to permanent damage of the dentition, using products such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar which are incredibly harsh on the mouth. Over-the-counter whitening products have been a cause for concern within the dental profession, too. A Which? study found that 85% of tooth whitening products bought from several online retailers contained ‘illegal and dangerous levels of hydrogen peroxide’.[vi] 

Whitening dentifrices like toothpastes and mouthwashes are generally safe for use, but some brands may contain higher levels of abrasives and/or whitening agents. Conversely, research suggests that oral care products containing hydroxyapatite, a biocompatible calcium phosphate, could provide a good whitening performance while reducing tooth sensitivity.[vii] As hydroxyapatite is bioactive and non-toxic, research notes that it could be favourable over other conventional tooth whitening products.

Recommend the best to reduce tooth sensitivity

Helping patients whiten their teeth in a safe and controlled environment is vital to ensure the risks of tooth sensitivity and other complications are kept to a minimum. Not only can you recommend professional whitening as the safest method, but you can also help patients source at-home products that are safe and effective, and will also enhance and prolong professional whitening results. 

For instance, consider recommending the Billion Dollar Smile Purple Whitening Toothpaste and Polish, with formulas packed with natural and gentle ingredients that can achieve outstanding brightness. With papaya and pineapple enzymes, brightening purple pigments and hydroxyapatite, Billion Dollar Smile solutions help to conceal yellow tones, breaking down surface stains for a visibly whiter smile. Their Zero Sensitivity Policy grants you the peace of mind that your patients (even those with pre-existing sensitivity) can use the products comfortably.

Tooth sensitivity is enough to put a damper on your patient’s day – or, in severe cases, even longer. With proven options available to safely and comfortably whiten teeth, you can help patients achieve their desired outcome without the unpleasant side effects.

For more details, please visit billiondollarsmile.com, call 01480 862080 or email


[i] Dentaly.org. (2023). UK Dental Facts & Statistics, Interesting Teeth Trivia. [online] Available at: https://www.dentaly.org/en/dental-facts-statistics/#:~:text=Around%2031%25%20of%20Brits [Accessed 19 Jun. 2023].

[ii] Douglas-de-Oliveira, D.W., Vitor, G.P., Silveira, J.O., Martins, C.C., Costa, F.O. and Cota, L.O.M. (2018). Effect of dentin hypersensitivity treatment on oral health related quality of life — A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Dentistry, [online] 71, pp.1–8. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0300571217303020 [Accessed 19 Jun. 2023].

[iii] Liu, X.-X., Tenenbaum, H.C., Wilder, R.S., Quock, R., Hewlett, E.R. and Ren, Y.-F. (2020). Pathogenesis, diagnosis and management of dentin hypersensitivity: an evidence-based overview for dental practitioners. BMC Oral Health, [online] 20(1). Available at: https://bmcoralhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12903-020-01199-z#ref-CR8 [Accessed 20 Jun. 2023].

[iv] West, N.X., Lussi, A., Seong, J. and Hellwig, E. (2012). Dentin hypersensitivity: pain mechanisms and aetiology of exposed cervical dentin. Clinical Oral Investigations, [online] 17(S1), pp.9–19. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3585766/ [Accessed 20 Jun. 2023].

[v] Bartlett, D.W., Fares, J., Shirodaria, S., Chiu, K., Ahmad, N. and Sherriff, M. (2011). The association of tooth wear, diet and dietary habits in adults aged 18–30 years old. Journal of Dentistry, [online] 39(12), pp.811–816. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300571211002107?via%3Dihub [Accessed 20 Jun. 2023].

[vi] Stevens, M. (n.d.). Don’t buy teeth whitening products from online marketplaces – Which? News. [online] Which? Available at: https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/dont-buy-teeth-whitening-products-from-online-marketplaces-agxQc7m2V4ow [Accessed 20 Jun. 2023].

[vii] Chen, L., Al-Bayatee, S., Khurshid, Z., Shavandi, A., Brunton, P. and Ratnayake, J. (2021). Hydroxyapatite in Oral Care Products—A Review. Materials, [online] 14(17), p.4865. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8432723/ [Accessed 20 Jun. 2023].

     Bio – Julia Svec

Julia Svec is the Product Development Manager for Billion Dollar Smile Cosmetics Ltd. She has spent the last ten years working in collaboration with dentists, laboratories and manufacturers in North America, Europe and Asia researching and developing effective and safe non-peroxide teeth-whitening products for professional and home use.  


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