Are Your Teeth Sensitive?
7 Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Treating Sensitive Teeth

Are your teeth a little touchy? You might have sensitive teeth.

Many adults start to experience tooth sensitivity between the ages of 20 to 40, but having sensitive teeth can is something you can experience at any age.

Treating Sensitive TeethWhen you routinely begin to have dental pain or discomfort when you eat or drink something cold or hot, or even when you floss or brush your teeth, you may suffer from tooth sensitivity. The experience can be temporary or it could be an on-going issue. The sensation can affect one tooth, a few, or many teeth.

So, why are your teeth suddenly so sensitive? There could be several possible causes, such as your diet, your oral hygiene, or even another dental issue could be the cause.

Here are some typical culprits that could make your teeth a little touchy.

7 Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

  1. You Grind Your Teeth – The enamel of your teeth is stronger than bone, but the chronic grinding of your teeth will eventually wear it down. When your tooth enamel wears down, this exposes the dentin, or the middle layer of your tooth, which contains the hollow tubes that lead to your nerves. This contributes to tooth sensitivity. You may not be aware that you grind your teeth. Many people grind their teeth when they sleep. If you suspect that you grind your teeth, we will examine your teeth for any signs of damage during your dental exam. If you are grinding your teeth, you’ll benefit from one of our custom designed night guards to protect your teeth while you sleep.
  2. You Brush Too Hard – Brushing your teeth too vigorously, or using a hard bristled toothbrush, will cause more harm than good. Doing either of these, or both, will eventually wear away the protective layers of your teeth, and it can expose the microscopic canals that lead to your dental nerves. When these nerves are exposed to extreme temperatures, tooth sensitivity (and pain!) can follow. Consider switching to a softer, gentler approach to your oral hygiene routine. Brush with less pressure, and switch to a toothbrush with softer bristlers.
  3. Your Diet is High in Acidity – If the nerves of your teeth are exposed, consuming acidic foods can contribute to your tooth discomfort. If you consume a lot of foods like tomato sauce, kiwi, pickles and citrus, you may want ease up on some of these acidic foods to lessen your tooth sensitivity.
  4. Your Gums are Receding – Gum recession occurs when your gum line lowers or pulls back from your teeth. This exposes the root surfaces of your teeth and contributes to tooth sensitivity. Receding gums are usually caused because of poor oral hygiene and gum disease, but damage to your gums from overzealous brushing can also contribute. Having receding gums is common with age, especially if you haven’t kept up with your routine teeth cleanings and exams! Fortunately, we have many options that can help, including using desensitizing varnishes to treat the nerve symptoms, or tooth colored composite fillings to help cover the surface of a tooth’s root.
  5. You Have Leaky Fillings – As time goes by, some of your existing fillings may weaken and break. They may also begin to ‘leak’ around the gaps between the filling and the tooth. When this happens, bacteria from the food you eat or drink can sneak through these tiny crevices and cause problems. If you’ve experienced on-going tooth sensitivity recently, a leaky filling could be the culprit. Fortunately, this is usually an easy treatment by replacing your old filling with a new, composite (tooth colored) one.
  6. You Have Built Up Plaque – Plaque is the sticky film that forms on your teeth. It’s one of the biggest causes of tooth sensitivity because its bacteria producing acids erode the enamel of your teeth. As your teeth lose the protection of their enamel, they become more sensitive. Every time you eat, plaque forms on your teeth. Eating foods rich in sugars, starches, and acids (as mentioned) generates more plaque. What to do? Floss and brush your teeth after you eat. But the best way to scrub the plaque away is to not miss your routine teeth cleanings every six months. These visits are essential to removing the hardened plaque from your teeth that regular brushing and flossing just can’t completely remove.
  7. Overdoing the Mouthwash – Many mouthwashes and rinses that you can buy over-the-counter contain alcohol and other chemicals that may cause tooth sensitivity, especially if your tooth enamel is already thin, or you have receding gums. If your teeth are sensitive and like using a mouthwash daily, you may want to opt for a neutral fluoride rinse, or simply skip the rinse and be more diligent with you proper flossing and brushing.

Tooth sensitivity is treatable. If you have sensitive teeth, practicing good daily oral hygiene can help reduce the sensitivity. But if your sensitivity increases and lingers, please call to schedule an evaluation so that we can treat it and reduce any discomfort. Just call us at (206) 524-1000 or request an appointment online.

Skip to content