Skip to main content

Sensitive Teeth 101

We have all experienced that sharp stabbing pain that comes from sensitive teeth, but if you are regularly noticing that discomfort, it could be a sign you need to see your dentist. Sensitive teeth can impact our entire lives, preventing us from enjoying a cup of hot coffee in the morning or a delicious cold ice cream on a summer’s day.

In extreme cases, even breathing in on a cold day can cause a sharp pain in our teeth.

Sensitive teeth can affect any of us at any time, but if you are experiencing continuous pain and are looking to relieve that, then we have taken a closer look at what causes the condition and what you can do to ease it.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Sensitivity in your teeth is incredibly common, and you are not alone in finding that hot and cold drinks can cause a sharp pain in your teeth. The pain occurs when the enamel, or outer layer of your tooth, begins to wear away, and the inner layers of your teeth become more exposed.

When this enamel begins to break down, the nerve endings on the inside of our teeth are closer to the surface, which means they are more prone to feeling hot and cold food and beverage.

This can cause severe pain and discomfort, which over time, can increase in severity and become more overwhelming.

What are some of the common causes of sensitive teeth?

Some people naturally have more sensitive teeth than others, but some of the most common causes for your tooth enamel to break down include:

  • Brushing your teeth too hard or vigorously
  • Using a toothbrush with bristles that are too hard
  • Grinding your teeth while sleeping at night
  • Eating and drinking acidic foods and beverages
  • Tooth decay and issues

Of course, these are not the only causes of sensitive teeth. Health conditions such as Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) can cause stomach acid to move upwards through the esophagus and into your mouth, which causes the enamel to break down over time. Other medical conditions, particularly those that cause frequent vomiting, can also cause the enamel to break down.

Acid is not the only cause of sensitive teeth. Gum recession and periodontal disease are two other very common causes, and as more of your gum recedes, the more exposed the nerves and unprotected parts of the tooth become. This can cause significant pain in users, no matter what they are eating or drinking.

Damage to your teeth is also another major cause of sensitivity. Broken and chipped teeth, alongside worn fillings and crowns, can leave the dentin inside your tooth exposed, which means that one tooth will become very sensitive while the rest of your mouth will feel fine.

Having oral surgery, such as whitening or a filling, can also cause temporary discomfort and sensitivity, but this should ease after a few days.

Our diet can also play a significant role in tooth sensitivity. Eating foods that are high in sugar or fat or regularly drinking sodas causes the enamel to wear away at a much faster rate, increasing the sensitivity you feel.

What can you do to prevent sensitive teeth?

When it comes to reducing the risk of developing tooth sensitivity, then prevention is the best method.

Taking care of your teeth is crucial in lowering sensitivity, which means making sure you are regularly brushing and flossing your teeth to remove bacteria and plaque will keep your teeth in the best condition possible.

Alongside brushing daily, you should also make sure that you are not brushing too hard. While you might think that a good scrub will remove all of that plaque, you could actually be brushing some of your enamel away with it.

Instead, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.

Another top preventive tip is to cut out those acidic foods from your diet.

Ditching those sodas and candy snacks can reduce the bacteria and keep your teeth looking their best. Drinking green or black tea or chewing sugar-free gum can between meals can also reduce the bacteria build-up on your teeth.

What we recommend if you already have sensitive teeth

While prevention is the best recommendation, it does not mean it is too late if you are already suffering from sensitive teeth.

One of the first things that you should do is to switch to a toothpaste that has been designed for sensitive teeth. These products can help to reduce the pain you are experiencing as they contain unique ingredients that temporarily block the tiny holes in your tooth enamel, reducing the amount of exposure your nerves are facing.

If the toothpaste is not reducing the discomfort enough, then it is also possible to have dental varnishes and coatings applied. These work in much the same way by blocking the holes in your enamel, but the solution is much stronger and will last for a much longer time.

You should also make sure that you are regularly visiting your dental healthcare provider. They will be able to thoroughly examine your teeth for signs of wear or tear as well as any fillings or crowns that may need replacing.

Alongside your teeth, they will also be able to check your gum health. Receding gums are one of the most common causes of sensitivity, so they will be able to provide treatment to reduce this.

If your tooth sensitivity is being caused by you grinding your teeth, known as bruxism, then your dentist might recommend that you wear a special mouthguard at night. This is molded to be an exact fit to your mouth and will protect your teeth from any further damage.

How to relive sensitive teeth after whitening

Have you noticed that your teeth have become particularly sensitive after having them whitened? This is a very common occurrence and is nothing to be worried about.

This sensitivity is often caused by the ingredients in the bleaching agent used to whiten your teeth, and whitening your teeth too often can make them a little sensitive.

Typically, this discomfort will disappear after a few days, but in the meantime, you should avoid any extremely hot or cold food and drinks as well as any acidic foods and sweets.

If the sensitivity continues after a few days, then you should speak to your dentist, who will be able to help you find products to ease the pain.

Is teeth sensitivity holding you back?

Are you finding that teeth sensitivity is taking over your life? We know how frustrating it can be to experience discomfort every time you take a sip of a drink or bite into something hot or cold.

That is why our experienced team is on hand to help you, so if you are noticing your sensitivity is increasing, get in touch today to find out more.