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Tooth Sensitivity FAQ: Common Questions On Sensitive Teeth & Gums

What Is The Difference Between Tooth Sensitivity And Pain In Your Mouth?

Tooth sensitivity is usually a sharp, intermittent zinging pain in response to air, food, or drinks that are especially hot, cold, sweet, or sour. If you’re experiencing mouth pain that is more severe and consistent, you should consult a dentist to be certain what you are experiencing isn’t a more serious or chronic condition such as a cavity, gum disease or a cracked tooth.

What Is The Difference Between Sensitive Teeth And Sensitive Gums?

Sensitive teeth pain occurs when your enamel or softer root cementum is worn down or your gum line has receded to expose what is called dentin. Dentin contains cylindrical tubules that run from the center of the tooth (or the “pulp”) where the nerves are located. When the dentin surface is exposed, dentin fluid flows outward from the pulp. If this flow is disrupted by external stimuli (such as hot or cold, sweet or sour foods and drinks) a signal is sent to the nerves which is felt as pain.

As the gums pull back, the dentin tubules become exposed and your teeth have less protection from these substances and temperature sensations. While sensitive teeth may not necessarily have a differing appearance than healthier teeth, sensitive gums will turn red and will often bleed without being prodded, such as when brushing. Also unlike sensitive teeth, sensitive gums may not cause the same type of discomfort. The trouble is that the longer you ignore them, the worse this is for your teeth and oral health, so be sure to consult your dentist as soon as possible if you are experiencing sensitive gums.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

In a healthy mouth, there are tiny tubules in dentin (the soft part inside a tooth) that are covered by gums, cementum (a hard layer of tissue), or enamel. These dentin tubules lead to nerves and if enamel, cementum or gums start to wear away, tubules are open (exposed), so stimuli like temperature changes in the mouth from hot soup, cold ice cream, or even cold air, can move through them to the nerves. This causes the shooting pain known as tooth sensitivity.

Does whitening your teeth cause tooth sensitivity?

Tooth whitening can be achieved in two ways: the use of bleaching products and non-bleaching products and either may cause sensitivity. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t whiten your teeth, but that you should simply be aware of the effects of whitening treatments and use them alongside proper and routine oral care.

How Does our LISTERINE® CRYSTAL BLOCK™ Technology work?

LISTERINE® SENSITIVITY with CRYSTAL BLOCK™ Technology works differently than many sensitivity toothpastes. Our CRYSTAL BLOCK™ Technology contains potassium oxalate, an ingredient which binds to calcium in your saliva and leads to the formation of calcium oxalate crystals deep inside exposed dentin tubules. Each rinse thus forms crystals that build up deep inside open tubules, blocking 97% of tubules in just 6 rinses* to provide daily repair of damage by creating a powerful barrier for continuous sensitivity protection.**

LISTERINE® SENSITIVITY starts to work right away***, and the crystals build with every rinse to provide deep, stable, lasting protection. As the crystals build up, tooth pain starts to go away. That usually happens in 2 weeks, with results that last between rinses.** The tubule occlusion is more durable than the occlusion from a leading sensitivity toothpaste that also blocks tubules – even after mechanical and acid challenge.*

*In laboratory studies
**With continued use
***Relief in 2 weeks with continued use