Why Does Tooth Sensitivity Occur and How to Treat It?

Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that involves discomfort or pain in teeth when encountering certain substances and temperatures. It can be a temporary or chronic issue and can affect one tooth, several teeth, or all the teeth. Understanding why tooth sensitivity occurs and knowing how to treat it can make a big difference in your daily life and oral health.

Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

There are many things that can cause your teeth to be sensitive. It’s a common problem and can be caused by different lifestyle habits or dental conditions. Understanding why your teeth might be sensitive can help you take steps to reduce the pain. Here are the most common reasons that people might experience sensitivity in their teeth:

  • Enamel Wear from Brushing Too Hard or Acid: If you brush your teeth very hard or eat a lot of acidic foods, you may wear away the enamel. The enamel is the hard surface on the outside of your teeth. When this wears down, the softer part underneath, called dentin, can get exposed. This dentin has tiny tubes that lead to the nerves, which can cause pain when they are exposed.

  • Gum Recession Exposing Roots: Gum recession is when the gums move away from the teeth, exposing the roots. The roots don’t have enamel to protect them, so they are more likely to be sensitive. Various factors, such as gum disease or even just getting older, can cause gums to recede.

  • Teeth Grinding: Some people grind their teeth, especially at night. This grinding can wear away the enamel over time. If you grind your teeth, called bruxism, it might be causing your sensitivity.

Dental Procedures and Sensitivity

Dental work can sometimes make teeth hurt for a short time. Getting your teeth whitened, getting fillings, or having braces put on your teeth are things that can make your teeth sensitive. If the pain goes away after a while, it’s usually nothing to worry about. But if the sensitivity lasts, there might be a bigger problem, like tooth decay or a crack in a tooth. If this happens, you should see a dentist.

  • Temporary Sensitivity After Dental Work: It’s common for teeth to be a little more sensitive after seeing the dentist. Usually, this goes away after a short time. It happens because the teeth have been worked on and may be reacting to the treatment.

  • Long-Lasting Sensitivity as a Warning Sign: If your teeth stay sensitive for a long time after dental treatment, it can mean there’s another issue, like decay or a crack in the tooth. It’s important to tell your dentist if the pain doesn’t stop or if it gets worse.

Types of Sensitivity

There are different types of sensitivity that one might experience:

  • Thermal Sensitivity: This occurs when teeth are exposed to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.

  • Chemical Sensitivity: Acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits or sodas, can trigger this type of sensitivity.

  • Osmotic Sensitivity: Caused by sugary foods or sweets that change the fluid balance in the dentin tubules inside the teeth.

Preventive Measures to Minimize Tooth Sensitivity

Prevention is always better than cure, and there are various steps you can take to prevent sensitivity:

Brushing Technique

Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle strokes helps protect your enamel from being worn down. Also, using fluoride toothpaste strengthens the tooth enamel, making your teeth less prone to sensitivity.


For those who grind their teeth, wearing a mouthguard at night can prevent the wear and tear that contributes to sensitivity.

Dietary Choices

Avoiding acidic foods and drinks, or at least rinsing your mouth with water after consuming them, can help preserve your enamel.

Treatment Options for Tooth Sensitivity

Treatment for tooth sensitivity depends on the severity and the root cause of the problem. Here are various treatment methods:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste: These kinds of toothpaste contain compounds that help block transmission from the tooth surface to the nerve, and they usually require several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.

  • Fluoride treatment: Applied by your dentist, fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.

  • Bonding agent: This is a material applied by the dentist on the exposed tooth root to seal sensitive areas.

If your sensitivity is severe and persistent, a trusted dentist in Nepean may suggest more advanced treatments, such as a root canal, to target problems in the dental pulp.

When to See a Dentist

If you’ve tried managing sensitivity at home with no relief, or if the sensitivity has increased or become painful, it’s time to get detailed information about your condition and explore professional treatment. Conditions like cavities, fractures, or gum diseases can lead to sensitivity and require treatment by a dentist.

Misconceptions About Tooth Sensitivity

One common misconception is that tooth sensitivity means you have cavities. While cavities can cause sensitivity, not all sensitivity is due to cavities. Another misplaced belief is that sensitivity is just a natural part of aging. While aging can result in more incidences of sensitivity due to gum recession or wear, it’s not an inevitable outcome for everyone.

Maintain Oral Hygiene

To maintain good oral health and minimize sensitivity, regular brushing, flossing, and timely visits to the dentist for check-ups and cleanings are vital. Good oral hygiene practices can also slow down or prevent the progression of gum disease, which is a common cause of sensitivity.

To access helpful resources about maintaining oral health and preventing tooth sensitivity, websites like dryudentistry.com can offer valuable information and tips.

To End

Tooth sensitivity can significantly impact your life by turning everyday actions like eating, drinking, and brushing into uncomfortable tasks. However, with careful preventive measures and appropriate treatments, you can manage or even eliminate this nagging problem. Always keep up with oral hygiene, weigh your treatment options, and don’t hesitate to visit a dentist if the issue persists. Good oral health is a key component of overall well-being, and managing tooth sensitivity is a step in the right direction toward maintaining a healthy, pain-free smile.