Symptoms & causes of sensitive teeth
The main symptoms of oversensitive teeth are pain and a feeling of discomfort when breathing cold air, brushing, consuming hot, cold, sweet or sour food or drinks.
Tooth sensitivity is among the common causes of a toothache. The phrase “tooth sensitivity” refers to tooth discomfort or feelings of toothache in one or more teeth. The pain of tooth sensitivity is usually sharp, sudden and shooting. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the layer of a tooth underneath the enamel (called the dentin) or the layer covering the root (called cementum) is exposed along the gum line due to receding gums. The exposed areas respond to hot and cold, and sometimes to sweet and spicy foods, and trigger pain.
The causes of tooth sensitivity vary, and if you have sensitive teeth, it may be due to several of these factors:
- Overzealous brushing. You can have too much of a good thing. Brushing your teeth with too much force, or with a hard-bristle toothbrush, may wear down tooth enamel, expose the cementum or dentin and cause tooth sensitivity.
- Gum disease. Inflamed gum tissue pulls away from the tooth, leaving vulnerable areas exposed.
- Tooth grinding. Grinding your teeth can cause the enamel to wear away and leave the dentin exposed.
If you have sensitive teeth, don’t neglect your daily oral care routine. Just be sure to use a soft toothbrush. You can also try a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Several brands are available, and you should notice some improvement with regular use of any of them. Also, try spreading some sensitizing toothpaste along the exposed cementum or dentin area before bed to help reduce sensitivity. Just use your fingertip or a cotton swab to rub the toothpaste directly onto the exposed spot.
How to treat and prevent sensitive teeth
See your dental professional for proper assessment and to find out the best steps to take for treatment.
Here are some steps you can take to treat and prevent tooth sensitivity:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, which will help prevent gum loss.
- Brush with a sensitivity toothpaste, which will continue removing plaque from clean teeth while providing relief from sensitivity.
- Brush and floss your teeth twice a day to prevent gum loss.
- Be sure to clean all parts of your mouth, including between teeth and along the gum line.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks.
Quick recap about sensitive teeth
- Tooth sensitivity is the pain you may feel when you eat or drink hot or cold foods or drinks.
- Sensitivity happens when gums pull away from the teeth or when gum tissue is lost. This exposes the tooth root below the gumline, resulting in sensitivity.
- Brush gently to avoid hurting your gums.
- You can also ask your dental team about special toothpastes for sensitive teeth.