Teeth Sensitivity: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Teeth Sensitivity: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

If you have ever felt pain or discomfort in your teeth when eating something hot or drinking something ice cold then you may be suffering from sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity can be temporary or be related to a more chronic problem. Not only that but it can affect one or all of your teeth. There are a number of different causes of sensitive teeth and finding out what is causing your tooth sensitivity can be a challenge. Read our guide and find out what causes sensitive teeth and how to treat the problem.


What are sensitive teeth?

Tooth sensitivity, also known as “dentin hypersensitivity,” is a pain or discomfort in the teeth typically caused by certain triggers including food, drinks, and environmental factors such as ice cream, hot drinks, and cold air. Tooth sensitivity can range from a mild twinge to severe discomfort that can last a few hours. While tooth sensitivity generally isn’t too much of a cause for concern it can be an early warning sign of more serious dental problems.


Who Suffers From Sensitive Teeth?

Sensitive teeth can affect many people and it can start at any time. The most common age range to begin suffering from sensitive teeth is between the ages of 20 and 40, although it can affect people in their early teens and when they are over 70.


What causes sensitive teeth?

The part of the tooth we can see has a layer of enamel that protects the softer dentine underneath. If the dentine is exposed, a tooth can become sensitive. This usually happens where the tooth and the gum meet and the enamel layer is much thinner. There are several factors that can cause tooth sensitivity including the following:

  • Brushing too hard – Brushing your teeth too hard around the gum area can not only cause the gums to recede but it can also cause the enamel to be worn away too. This can lead to the freshly exposed dentine then becoming sensitive.
  • Dental erosion caused by acidic food and drinks – Dental erosion is the loss of tooth enamel caused by acid from acidic food and drinks. This loss of enamel may lead to the dentine underneath to be exposed which is why your teeth may feel sensitive.
  • Receding gums – Gums may naturally recede (shrink back), and the roots of the teeth will become exposed and can be more sensitive. Root surfaces do not have an enamel layer to protect them.
  • Gum disease – Gum disease is where the gums become red, swollen and sore, and bleed causing your teeth and gums to feel sensitive.
  • Tooth grinding – Grinding your teeth is a habit that involves clenching and grinding the teeth together. This can cause the enamel of the teeth to be worn away, making the teeth sensitive.
  • A cracked tooth or filling – A cracked tooth or filling is one that has become broken and the dentine of the tooth can become exposed leaving them feeling sensitive.
  • Tooth whitening – Teeth whitening can occasionally cause some patients to have sensitivity for a short time during and shortly after whitening.


Why Are My Teeth Sensitive All Of A Sudden

There are several reasons why your teeth may suddenly feel sensitive. It may be caused by a more long term condition or could only be temporary and short lived. Here are some of the reasons why your teeth sudden;y feel sensitive:

  • Your Diet: Eating too much acidic or hard foods can cause tooth sensitivity e.g. juices, fruits and chewing on hard sweets.
  • Chewing Ice: Chewing ice can crack the enamel of your teeth or grind it down over time.
  • Brushing your teeth too hard: Abrasive teeth brushing can increase tooth sensitivity.
  • Teeth whitening: Sensitive teeth can be a temporary side effect of teeth whitening. Be sure to follow the instructions given by your dentist when whitening your teeth. 
  • Split tooth: Sudden pain when you bite down can be a sign of a split tooth and you should seek out an emergency dentist appointment.
  • Sinus infection: A sinus infection can make your teeth hurt because of the pressure and inflammation of the sinuses swelling. 
  • Pregnancy. Pregnancy doesn’t directly cause tooth sensitivity, but its hormonal changes can affect your gums, which might lead to some discomfort or pain.
  • Cold weather: Cold air during the winter months can cause a sensitive twinge. Your dentist might test for sensitivity by blowing air on your teeth.
  • Teeth grinding due to stress: If you’re feeling stressed you may unknowingly be grinding your teeth, which can then cause tooth sensitivity also known as Bruxism. This typically occurs when you’re asleep and you may not even realise you’re doing it. If you believe you may be suffering from stress, we advise that you speak to a doctor.


Can Tooth Sensitivity Go Away On Its Own?

Depending on the cause of your sensitive teeth, it may or may not go away on its own. If you’re suffering tooth sensitivity due to a recent dental procedure or teeth whitening then it will probably go away on its own. However, if your tooth sensitivity is caused by a lifestyle habit or a more serious dental problem such as tooth decay, it is highly unlikely that the sensitivity will improve on its own.


How To Treat Sensitive Teeth

Depending on the cause of your sensitive teeth, you may be able to make the necessary changes yourself to improve the sensitivity or you may need to seek professional advice from your dentist. For less severe cases of tooth sensitivity you can try the following:

  • Switch to a soft bristled toothbrush
  • Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth
  • Don’t brush your teeth too hard
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks
  • Avoid foods and drinks that are too hot or too cold
  • Speak to a doctor to reduce stress to help with teeth grinding
  • Take a break from whitening your teeth


How Are Sensitive Teeth Diagnosed And When To See A Dentist?

If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity all of a sudden, you should make an appointment with your dentist. You can make an appointment at Green Square Dental by calling us on 01709 917 666 or via email at info@greensquaredental.co.uk. During your appointment, your dentist will look at the health of your teeth and check for potential problems like cavities, loose fillings, or recessed gums that could be causing the sensitivity. Alternatively, you can speak to your dentist about tooth sensitivity during your routine dental check up. As well as the usual teeth cleaning and check up, your dentist may also touch your teeth using dental instruments to check for sensitivity or possibly order an X-ray on your teeth to rule out any potential causes such as cavities.

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