Causes of tooth sensitivity
Painful teeth are distracting! If you have tooth pain or your teeth are hurting, sensitivity could be the cause.
Tooth sensitivity is a common condition. It is experienced as a painful sensation in the teeth, often occurring after eating or drinking something hot, cold, sweet or acidic. Normally, the dentine is covered by enamel, but over time, enamel can be worn away, providing less protection from external stimulation - i.e. hot or cold foods and drinks. The gums can also recede over time, exposing the underlying root surface dentine.
The dentine contains a large number of tubules, microscopic pathways that run from the outside of the tooth to the nerve in the centre. When the dentine is exposed, these tubules can be stimulated by changes in temperature or certain sweet, or acidic foods.
What causes sensitive teeth?
Exposure of the dentine is due to a number of factors. Some common causes are:
- Gum recession, often seen with age or improper tooth brushing
- Drinking acidic beverages, such as soft drinks or fruit juices, can cause enamel erosion and dentine exposure
- Tooth grinding can cause most or all of the teeth to feel sensitive
- A chipped or fractured tooth can expose the dentine
- In addition, certain dental treatments can cause tooth sensitivity, either during or after the procedure.
What you can do about it
Pain relief is no doubt a high priority for you, so the first step in dealing with your tooth sensitivity is to find out what the cause is. Visit your dentist for a check-up and professional opinion.
If your sensitivity is due to exposed dentine, there are a number of things you can do yourself to help reduce the sensitivity. Recommendations include:
- Using a very soft-bristled toothbrush
- Brushing correctly to help prevent enamel and gum recession
- Using a toothpaste specially formulated to help reduce sensitivity, like Colgate® Sensitive Pro-Relief™
Alternatively, a dental professional can:
- Apply fluoride varnish to the sensitive areas to help strengthen the tooth
- Recommend a high fluoride toothpaste for daily use
- Place a dental restoration to build up the areas that have lost enamel, in some cases
Whatever the cause of your tooth sensitivity, the most important step is to see a dental professional to determine the cause of the tooth sensitivity and help you find a solution.
This page/article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.
For instant relief, apply directly to sensitive tooth with fingertip for one minute. For lasting relief, brush twice daily.
†Repairs with twice daily brushing to block the channels leading to sensitive teeth.