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How To Stop Sensitive Teeth Pain Immediately

If you're experiencing a sudden bout of severe teeth sensitivity, you can follow our protocol on how to stop it immediately. Afterwards, you should follow up with your dentist to determine the root cause and get permanent treatment.

Protocol to stop sensitive teeth pain immediately:

Cease sensitivity triggering activities

The first step to stop sensitive teeth pain is by discontinuing all activities which induce sensitivity. The reasoning is if you get rid of the source, you should stop feeling pain/discomfort.

Activities that may trigger teeth sensitivity:

  • Chewing hard foods. Certain hard foods such as baguettes or crunchy textured foods can place a lot of pressure on the tooth.

  • Low pH foods. Sweet, sour, spicy and acidic foods can irritate the tooth nerve especially if it has been exposed or if the gums have receded.

  • Cold/hot foods. Extremely cold or scaldingly hot foods can even hurt non-sensitive teeth.

If any of these activities make the pain worse, it is senseless to continue doing them.

Rinse with baking soda

The second step to stop sensitive teeth pain is by rinsing with baking soda for 1-2 minutes.

baking soda
baking soda

How to make baking soda mouth rinse:

  1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of water.

  2. Stir until fully incorporated.

  3. Rinse and swish around for 1-2 minutes.

  4. Spit back out.

Why it helps: Teeth sensitivity can be triggered when the mouth pH drops into the acidic zone. Mouth acids can dislodge smear plugs which permits the acids to interact directly with the tooth nerve. The end result is a big ouch. However, baking soda can neutralize oral acids.

Smear plugs dislodged by acidic stimuli
Credit KoR

Baking soda is readily available and can de-acidify the mouth via the bicarbonate system, which our mouths naturally use. The chart below shows how rinsing with bicarbonate raised the pH from 5 to over 9.

Bicarbonate buffering system chart and mouth pH
Credit: Domenick Zero

Apply potassium nitrate toothpaste for 15 minutes

The third step to stop sensitive teeth pain is by desensitizing the teeth with potassium nitrate toothpaste for 15 minutes. Yes you want to leave the toothpaste on the tooth without rinsing for a full fifteen minutes.

pronamel potassium nitrate toothpaste
pronamel potassium nitrate toothpaste

Why it helps: Potassium nitrate is a nerve depolarizer which numbs the pulp and prevents it from firing pain signals. Brushing with it can reduce sensitivity and alleviate pain.

Nerve depolarization diagram
Credit: Crest

The way it works is by supplying an overabundance of potassium ions to the tooth nerve which disrupts the concentration gradient which is required to fire an action potential.

Why 15 minutes: Sensitive toothpaste works topically which means that it only exerts its effect while its in contact with the tooth. In other words, the longer the contact time the more effective the toothpaste will be in desensitizing your tooth.

Apply stannous fluoride or hydroxyapatite toothpaste for 5 minutes.

The fourth step to stop sensitive teeth pain is by blocking sensitivity with stannous fluoride or hydroxyapatite toothpaste for 5 minutes.

Sensodyne stannous fluoride toothpaste
Sensodyne stannous fluoride toothpaste

Why it helps: Stannous fluoride can desensitize teeth by occluding open dentinal tubules. This prevents stimuli from directly interacting with the pulp thus triggering sensitivity.

Tubular occlusion with colgate pro-argin
Tubular occlusion with colgate pro-argin

Most of the tubular occlusion sensitivity toothpastes work in the same way. This includes hydroxyapatite as well as arginine toothpastes.

Why 5 minutes: Sensitive toothpaste works topically which means that it only exerts its effect while its in contact with the tooth. In other words, the longer the contact time the more effective the toothpaste will be in desensitizing your tooth. oxyapatite as Typically 5 minutes will provide sufficient contact/working time for the tubular occlusion agent.

See a dentist

Last but not least, you should schedule a dental consultation with your dentist to find out what it was that is triggering your sensitivity. There is a possibility that you may need some type of dental treatment in order to permanently get rid of the teeth sensitivity.

Sensitivity triggering conditions requiring treatment:

  • Missing filling. A lost or dislodged restoration will leave the dentin exposed which can be extremely sensitive.

  • Cracked tooth. If you chipped your tooth or even cracked it in half, this will require immediate attention.

  • Tooth decay. Perhaps your feeling sensitivity because there is decayed and there is a cavitation in your molar.

  • Gum recession. Receding gum lines can expose the root surface that is sensitive. You can try covering it with a filling or even regrow the gums with gum grafting.

  • Dental abscess. An infection will need to be addressed swiftly in order to prevent unwanted facial swelling.

If you think you have any of the above conditions, you will need to seek professional help. Luckily for you, our dentists in long island city do provide emergency dental appointments.


David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

Association Memberships:

Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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