Can Brushing and Flossing Cause Sensitive Teeth?

If you experience sensitivity while brushing, flossing, or after a visit to the dentist, have you ever wondered: Can these oral care habits be the cause of sensitive teeth? Or, are they merely triggers?

To help set the record straight, here’s a look at the role brushing, flossing, and deep cleaning may play in tooth sensitivity, along with a few good oral care tips to help minimize the pain.

Myth vs Truth

Brushing Sensitive Teeth

Brushing teeth at a 45 degree angle


Brushing causes sensitive teeth


Aggressive brushing can trigger sensitivity

How to brush sensitive teeth

Using the right technique is important. Brush with a soft-bristled or electric toothbrush for 2 minutes, twice a day. Place your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and move back and forth in short strokes. Don’t brush too hard or too frequently—you can cause gum recession and experience sensitivity.

Use Sensodyne toothpaste when you brush, which is formulated to treat sensitive teeth.

Young woman brushing her teeth with Sensodyne toothpaste for sensitive teeth

Flossing Sensitive Teeth

Example of correct flossing technique


Flossing causes sensitive teeth


Aggressive flossing can trigger sensitivity pain

How to floss sensitive teeth

The key to flossing sensitive teeth is to be gentle. Insert the floss between each tooth and curve it into a “C” shape, gently rubbing it up and down against the sides of your teeth. Remember to floss once a day to help remove plaque and keep your teeth and gums healthy, reducing the risk of sensitivity.

Woman flossing her sensitive teeth

Visiting the dentist with sensitive teeth

Icon of dentist's chair


Deep cleanings at the dentist cause sensitive teeth


You can experience temporary sensitivity after a deep cleaning

How to prepare for a dentist-office deep cleaning

It’s important to visit the dentist every 6 months so you can keep your mouth healthy and eliminate tartar buildup. Use Sensodyne toothpaste for 2 weeks before your appointment to help prep your sensitive teeth and relieve any pain.*

*With twice daily brushing

Sensodyne Extra Whitening and Sensodyne Repair toothpaste products