What Can Cause Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is what it sounds like; when your tooth is extra sensitive in response to certain stimuli, usually hot and cold drinks. You may experience an uncomfortable sensation as a result of having sensitive teeth, like pain or discomfort. 

While sensitive teeth can be the source of an underlying problem like cavities, an infection, or a cracked tooth, it could also be the case that you have a thinner enamel and therefore have naturally sensitive teeth.

List of 15 Possible Causes

Other than having naturally sensitive teeth, the following can cause temporarily sensitive teeth:

  • Receding gums
  • Enamel erosion
  • Cavities
  • Sinus infection
  • Bruxism
  • Having dental work done
  • Cracked tooth
  • Acidic foods
  • Gum disease
  • Consuming foods or drinks at extreme temperatures
  • Gum infection
  • Using teeth bleaching products
  • Brushing the teeth too hard
  • Using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Plaque buildup

If you think any of these are the source of your sensitive teeth, you should see a dentist to have your teeth examined. Sensitive teeth caused by a chipped tooth or infection need to be treated right away so it doesn’t get much worse.

Why Do Some People Have Sensitive Teeth

People with naturally sensitive teeth tend to have thinner enamels. This can be a result of continually engaging in activities that contribute to enamel erosion, such as using a hard toothbrush or brushing too aggressively. Grinding your teeth and consuming highly acidic foods and drinks can also wear away your enamel, which protects your teeth.

How to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity

The following has been effective in reducing tooth sensitivity:

  • Toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth
  • Fluoride gel
  • Using a mouthguard
  • Desensitizing paste
  • Fillings & sealants for exposed roots
  • Surgical gum graft
  • Root canal
  • Use alcohol-free mouthwash
  • Use a soft toothbrush
  • Avoid highly acidic foods/drinks

When to See a Dentist

If you are suffering from tooth sensitivity, especially if it is a sudden onset of sensitivity that you have never experienced before, then it’s important to visit your dentist. Sudden onset tooth sensitivity is likely to be caused by some problem with the teeth like tooth decay or gum disease. Your dentist can perform an exam and cleaning as well as take X-rays to get a closer look at what’s going on. 

If your tooth sensitivity is caused by problems with your teeth, then your dentist will devise a treatment plan to address these issues. If you grind your teeth at night, you should wear a mouthguard. You may have to trial and error by altering your diet, toothbrush, and toothpaste to figure out what helps to alleviate the sensitivity.

At Coronado Family Dental, we deal with patients experiencing tooth sensitivity all the time. If you are suffering from tooth sensitivity, schedule an appointment with Dr. Becky Chiem for a thorough examination and we can help you determine the cause and a treatment plan that will alleviate your discomfort.