Tooth Sensitivity: Causes, 10 Home Remedies + Prevention Tips (Foods To Avoid)

Medically reviewed by Dr. Thomas Connelly, DDS
by Pooja Karkala

A study in the Journal of the American Dental Association shows that 12% of the population from the northwestern part of the United States have sensitive teeth (1). Sensitive teeth are prone to pain upon exposure to something hot, cold, or acidic.

Tooth sensitivity can be painful. Though medical treatment is necessary in almost all cases, you may also find some relief through other simple methods.

In this article, we have discussed certain home remedies that may give you the desired results. In addition, we also have included some foods you should avoid during the recovery period.

Home Remedies For Treating Tooth Sensitivity

1. Coconut Oil Pulling

Oil pulling with coconut oil has a wide range of benefits for oral health (2). The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of the oil (especially virgin coconut oil) can help reduce tooth pain (3).

You Will Need

1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Swish a tablespoon of the coconut oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Spit the oil out and brush your teeth.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily, preferably every morning.

2. Salt Water Rinse

Salt has anti-inflammatory properties. Rat studies show that it may help reduce inflammation (4). Hence, a saltwater rinse could help alleviate tooth pain.

You Will Need
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 glass of warm water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add half a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water.
  2. Mix well and use the solution to rinse your mouth.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 times daily.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt helps reduce the demineralization of the tooth enamel (5). Though there is no research if this property could help treat tooth sensitivity, yogurt could promote oral health (6). It also is rich in calcium, an important component of teeth.

You Will Need

½ bowl of plain yogurt

What You Have To Do

Consume half a bowl of plain yogurt.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

4. Guava Leaves

Mice studies show that guava leaves have anti-inflammatory properties (7). These may help in the treatment of tooth sensitivity.

You Will Need

A few guava leaves

What You Have To Do
  1. Wash the guava leaves thoroughly.
  2. Chew on them for 1 to 2 minutes and then spit out.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

5. Garlic

Garlic compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. They also help fight oral pathogens (8), (9). The anti-inflammatory properties of garlic could help ease the pain associated with tooth sensitivity.

You Will Need
  • 1 garlic clove
  • A few drops of water
  • A pinch of salt
What You Have To Do
  1. Crush a clove of garlic.
  2. Add a few drops of water and a pinch of salt to it.
  3. Apply the mixture to the affected tooth.
  4. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before washing it off with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

6. Onion

Onions have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that fight oral pathogens (10), (11). These properties may also play a role in reducing the pain associated with tooth sensitivity.

You Will Need

A small piece of onion

What You Have To Do
  1. Chew on a small piece of onion for a few minutes.
  2. Alternatively, you can place a piece of onion near the affected tooth and gums and leave it on for about 10 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

7. Essential Oils

a. Clove Oil

The analgesic effect of clove oil could help relieve toothache (12). The natural microbicide properties of clove oil can help in killing oral pathogens (13).

Note: Clove oil has a potent smell. Therefore, use it with a carrier oil.

You Will Need
  • 6 drops of clove oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Add six drops of clove oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil.
  2. Mix well and apply the mixture to the affected tooth and gums.
  3. Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing your mouth with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

b. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (14). These may help alleviate some of the pain associated with tooth sensitivity.

Caution: Do not swallow the essential oil mixture.

You Will Need
  • 6 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Add six drops of tea tree oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil.
  2. Apply this mixture to the affected tooth and gums.
  3. Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes before washing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

8. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract was found to have anti-nociceptive properties (reducing the perception of pain) (15). It may help reduce the pain associated with tooth sensitivity.

You Will Need
  • 4 drops of vanilla extract
  • Cotton pad
What You Have To Do

Dab the cotton pad with vanilla extract and apply it to the sensitive gums for 3-5 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

You can do this multiple times a day.

9. Vitamins

If you have tooth sensitivity, ensure you are getting enough B vitamins. The deficiency of the B vitamins (B12, especially) was linked to dental caries in children (16). Though this may not be directly related to tooth sensitivity, taking adequate B vitamins could promote oral health.

Vitamin E may also help treat toothache, although research is lacking in this aspect. A study states that vitamin E could have anti-inflammatory effects on rats with ulcerative colitis (17). There is insufficient information to understand if these anti-inflammatory properties translate to treating tooth pain as well.

However, including foods rich in these vitamins can help. These include

almonds, spinach, kale, turnip, fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy.

10. Fluoride Mouthwash

Fluoride mouthwashes and toothpaste are recommended for treating tooth sensitivity as they help strengthen your enamel and also reduce toothache to a large extent. The mouth rinses were also found to prevent dental caries in children and adolescents (18), (19).

You Will Need

1 small cup of fluoride mouthwash

What You Have To Do
  1. Rinse your mouth with a small cup of fluoride mouthwash.
  2. Swish it in your mouth for 1 to 2 minutes before spitting it out.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 times daily.

While following the aforementioned remedies, it also is important to take precautions to prevent tooth sensitivity in the future. The upcoming section has some tips that you can follow.

Prevention Tips

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Brush your teeth gently.
  • Avoid grinding your teeth.
  • Reduce acidic foods.
  • Follow good oral hygiene.
  • Visit your dentist regularly to keep track of your oral health.

What you eat largely determines your oral health. You may also want to avoid the following foods.

Foods To Avoid If You Have Sensitive Teeth

  • Ice cream
  • Soda
  • Hot coffee/tea
  • Candies
  • Sticky toffee
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Ice and cold drinks

Tooth sensitivity can easily be managed by following a proper oral regimen and eliminating certain foods from your diet. However, if you happen to develop severe and unbearable tooth pain, it is best to visit a dentist immediately.

Tooth sensitivity can have various causes. In the following section, we have discussed the most common ones. Being aware of the causes can help you prevent tooth sensitivity in the future.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity occurs when a material inside your tooth, called dentin, loses its protective covering (also called cementum).

This exposes the nerve endings of your tooth to hot, cold, and acidic foods, resulting in increased tooth sensitivity.

Some common factors that contribute to tooth sensitivity are:

  • Damaged tooth enamel from using a hard toothbrush
  • Eroded tooth due to consumption of highly acidic foods and beverages
  • Tooth decay
  • Worn-out teeth fillings
  • Broken tooth
  • Receding gums
  • Teeth grinding (at night)
  • A dental procedure
  • Whitening treatment

The following are the symptoms of sensitive teeth.

Symptoms Of Sensitive Teeth

  • Increased tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, and acidic foods
  • Tooth pain while breathing in cold air
  • Receding gums
  • Redness or swelling of gums

Tooth sensitivity is a common issue. However, it can be well managed with proper care and precautions. The remedies discussed in this post are not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. They can only help relieve pain to a certain extent.

If you have sensitive teeth, ensure you follow good oral hygiene practices. Avoid foods that are too cold. If your symptoms persist, visit your dentist.

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

Which is the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth and gums?

A fluoride-based toothpaste is your best bet to relieve tooth sensitivity and enhance your overall oral health. Look for a toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate, which soothes the nerve endings of your tooth. Certain toothpaste also contains stannous fluoride, which forms a protective layer on your eroded tooth, thereby relieving pain and sensitivity. Consult a dentist who will help you select the best toothpaste for your teeth.

Can a cavity heal on its own?

Cavities are holes that form in your teeth as a result of decay. They don’t heal on their own and need to be treated immediately as they put your gums and tooth at the risk of infection.

How do you know if you need a root canal?

Certain symptoms like pain while eating, a sensitivity that lingers long after the trigger (hot or cold) has been removed, or even a small bump near the area of tooth pain could mean you need a root canal.

19 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Pooja Karkala

Pooja is a Mass Communications and Psychology graduate. Her education has helped her develop the perfect balance between what the reader wants to know and what the reader has to know. As a classical dancer, she has long, black hair, and she knows the struggle that goes into maintaining it. She believes in home remedies and grandma’s secrets for achieving beautiful, luscious hair. When she is not writing, she learns Kuchipudi, practices yoga, and creates doodles.
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