Tooth Sensitivity: 8 Most Common Causes

If a bite of ice-cream or a sip of hot tea causes you to wince in pain, you may have a rather common problem called tooth sensitivity. This condition is quite harmless but can cause notable discomfort. The good news is that you do not have to put up with the pain. In fact, you can do a variety of things to relieve that sensitivity.

You have periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and bone that support teeth. If this condition is left untreated, gum tissue can separate from the teeth allowing small pockets to form. Bacteria can easily reach these pockets and destroy tissues that would otherwise cover the tooth roots. The exposed roots cause tooth sensitivity. 

You have a cracked tooth. If you have a damaged tooth you could be experiencing tooth sensitivity due to possibly exposed nerves. Simply visit a dentist who will recommend appropriate measures for repairing the damaged area. 

You brush too aggressively, or incorrectly. Chances are, you may be brushing your teeth the wrong way or simply too aggressively. If you wear off the enamel that protects the teeth, or the cementum that guards the roots under the gums, cold and heat can stimulate the nerves. Injured gums and exposed roots can result in tooth sensitivity.

Brushing with tooth-whitening toothpaste. Most tooth-whitening methods contain chemicals and alcohol that tend to have an adverse effect on sensitive teeth. Such toothpastes can aggravate discomfort. If you think your toothpaste may the culprit, consider switching to one that is specifically designed for sensitive teeth.

You have tooth decay around your fillings. With time, and continuous use of your teeth, fillings can be worn down – they can fracture and leak around the edges. This makes it easy for bacteria to accumulate in the cracks, damaging the enamel and baring the roots. Your dentist can prescribe an appropriate treatment.

You grind your teeth. This action can wear down the enamel protecting the roots. The dentin, the layer below the enamel, contains small tubules that lead to the nerves. Hence, heat and cold can easily access the nerves and cause your teeth discomfort. Mouth guards and splints can help you minimize grinding thereby relieving sensitivity.

You use mouthwash excessively. Just like tooth-whitening toothpaste, most mouthwashes contain alcohol and other chemicals that may bother your teeth. If dentin is exposed, mouthwashes can aggravate your teeth’s sensitivity. You could try a neutral fluoride wash, or simply skip the mouth wash altogether. Just floss and brush regularly.

You eat loads of acidic foods. Though fruit such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons are a good option health-wise, they can also be the cause for your tooth sensitivity, especially if your enamel is worn down and nerves are exposed. Listen to your body’s signals and stick to foods that do not hurt your teeth.

Now that we have looked at the causes, we should consider available treatments. Tooth sensitivity is very treatable, and is usually resolved by regularly using desensitizing toothpaste. Should that not resolve the issue, schedule an appointment with our dentist. He may be able to administer in-office fluoride or special gels treatments. Should those methods prove insufficient, fillings and crowns may be needed if damaged teeth are to blame. Your dentist may also perform a surgical gum graft to cover the roots, should gum tissue have been lost from the root. Finally, your dentist may suggest a root canal if no other treatment was successful and your dental hypersensitivity persist.


Posted on October 2, 2013 .