What causes sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth

27 Mar What causes sensitive teeth?

Most people with sensitive teeth experience pain in their teeth when eating or drinking hot or cold food and drinks. Eating sweet foods or brushing their teeth may also cause pain.

Sensitive teeth are the result of the tooth’s dentine, the porous layer underneath the tooth enamel, becoming exposed. Dentine is composed of microscopic hollow tubes or canals that lead to your dental nerves. When exposed to the elements, these tubules allow heat, cold, acidic or even sticky substances to reach the nerves inside the tooth, causing pain.

7 causes of sensitive teeth:

  1. Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush – vigorous brushing can wear away the tooth enamel and expose the dentine below.
  2. Eating acidic foods – acids soften the tooth enamel making it more susceptible to erosion. The more acidic food you eat, the greater the risk of damage.
  3. Gum recession – receding or inflamed gums can expose the roots of the teeth and cause tooth sensitivity.
  4. Cracked teeth – cracked and broken teeth can expose the dentin of the tooth.
  5. Teeth grinding or clenching – teeth grinding (bruxism) can wear down tooth enamel and expose the sensitive dentin.
  6. Long-term use of mouthwash – some over-the-counter mouthwashes are acidic. Long-term use can weaken the enamel and reveal the dentin.
  7. Dental procedures – sometimes teeth may be sensitive after dental procedures such as crowns, fillings and tooth whitening. This usually eases with time.

5 ways to prevent sensitive teeth:

  1. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid brushing too hard.
  2. Brush and floss your teeth twice a day to prevent gum loss.
  3. Avoid acidic and sugary foods and drinks.
  4. Don’t brush your teeth straight after eating, some foods and drinks (acidic and sugary) can soften the enamel of your teeth. Leave it for at least an hour so your saliva has the chance to neutralise your mouth’s acidity.
  5. Use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.

If you have sensitive teeth which are causing you pain, it’s always best to get your teeth checked out by a dentist. Your dentist can make sure that there aren’t any underlying issues causing the problem and advise you on how best to manage things.

To book an appointment with our dentist, please call us on 01395 225600.

Image credit:Mike Pham. Shared under Creative Commons license.