What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?


If you have sensitive teeth, you probably know what triggers the pain—hot beverages, cold foods, even breathing cold air. But what actually causes your tooth sensitivity? It’s important to get to the root of the issue!

Step up your brushing and flossing game, and consider whether you need to address these common causes of sensitivity:

Cavities, Tooth Decay, and Gum Disease

When you feel that sting or tingling, something is getting to the sensitive inner parts of the teeth. Cavities and tooth decay expose the root to the outside. Gum disease can be a contributing factor, too, especially if you have receding gums.

Set a goal for better oral hygiene. Brush one more time per day and floss daily. If the tooth sensitivity remains, don’t wait for your next regular check-up. See the dentist to fill cavities and get a thorough cleaning.

Aggressive Brushing

It’s possible to brush too much. Removing plaque only requires gentle brushing. No need to scrub like you’re trying to clean a bathtub! Harder brushing can actually damage enamel and expose the inside of the teeth through tiny openings.

Stick with soft or medium bristles and brush in gentle circles. Focus on covering all surface areas, not attacking the enamel.

Teeth Grinding

Like aggressive brushing, grinding your teeth while sleeping or when stressed can also damage enamel. Excessive grinding and clenching can even cause tiny cracks that lead to severe tooth sensitivity.

We recommend that teeth grinders seek out methods of reducing stress levels and consider a mouth guard to prevent overnight damage.

Toothpaste and Mouthwash with Harsh Chemicals

You may be sensitive to the chemicals and alcohol found in those whitening products and heavy-duty mouthwashes. When nothing else seems to be the cause of your tooth sensitivity, consider switching brands.

Look for toothpaste without whitening ingredients. If you use whitening kits, use them less often. Also look for an alcohol-free mouthwash that promotes oral health.

Acidic Foods & Beverages

Not only do acidic foods cause pain when you have tooth sensitivity, they might be a big reason for the sensitivity in the first place. Coffee and wine are not the only items to limit—also be wary of soda and most sweet drinks, fruits (especially citrus), pickles, hot sauce, and tomato sauce.

Try to avoid these foods while eliminating your sensitivity. When the problem goes away, be sure to rinse with water and brush your teeth after consuming them.

Your Dental Work Needs an Inspection

Braces, fillings, implants and other dental procedures require special cleaning. The extra nooks and crannies create new places for bacteria to get stuck and form plaque. If you have tooth sensitivity around dental work, see the dentist for professional cleaning and possibly new fittings.

We feel your pain! Make sure to visit My Family Dentistry for a routine cleaning and examination. Contact us and we’ll discuss your oral health and habits so you can strengthen your teeth and be pain-free as quickly as possible.

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