Sensitive Teeth: Common Causes & Treatments

posted by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 6/30/2022 in General

Woman experiencing tooth sensitivity after eating some ice cream

Taking a sip of hot coffee, eating an ice cream cone, or drinking ice water after your workout are all things you probably don’t think twice about – unless you have sensitive teeth. 

As soon as extremely hot or cold foods and drinks hit your teeth, the temperature changes can trigger tooth pain. This sensitivity can range from annoying discomfort to intense pain. It may be chronic or temporary and may occur in one or multiple teeth. 

There are different causes of tooth sensitivity, all of which have different treatment options that can alleviate and prevent it. Let’s explore the common causes of sensitive teeth, along with key ways you can treat and prevent teeth sensitivity. 

Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth

If you experience tooth discomfort and pain that’s sharp and sudden after doing these activities, you may have sensitive teeth: 

  • Breathing in cold air 
  • Eating sweet, sour, or acidic foods and drinks
  • Using alcohol-based mouthwash
  • Consuming hot or cold foods and drinks 
  • Brushing and flossing 

What Causes Sensitive Teeth? 

You may often wonder, “Why are my teeth sensitive?” – especially if you take good care of your teeth. Tooth sensitivity is caused by thinning enamel that’s responsible for protecting the underlying layer of your teeth (dentin) or receding gums that were covering the roots of your teeth. 

Your teeth’s dentin and roots are filled with tubules. These tubules connect to the pulp of your teeth, which house your tooth’s extremely sensitive nerves. When these are exposed, the triggers described above have easy access to these nerves, causing hypersensitivity. This is why things that may not have caused you pain before, suddenly do. 

There are a few things that can cause enamel erosion and gum recession linked to teeth sensitivity.

You may also notice teeth sensitivity after teeth whitening or getting dental work done, such as a filling or crown. This should go away on its own, after a few days. If it doesn’t, your teeth sensitivity may be a result of worn enamel or exposed roots, caused by the issues above. To get rid of tooth pain, follow up with your dentist or look into at-home methods for tooth sensitivity reduction, which we’ll discuss next.

How To Treat and Prevent Sensitive Teeth

The methods you use to treat sensitive teeth will depend on the cause of your sensitivity and how extensive the damage is. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to lessen and even get rid of tooth sensitivity while also giving your teeth more protection.

Keeping good dental hygiene is the best way to prevent and treat sensitive teeth. Brush your teeth twice a day – morning and night – using desensitizing toothpaste, a brush with soft bristles, and proper brushing techniques. To minimize enamel erosion, use small, gentle, and circular movements while brushing rather than brushing side-to-side. Floss and use an alcohol-free mouthwash made for sensitive teeth every day.

In addition, limiting the amount of tooth-damaging foods you consume can lessen tooth sensitivity. If you grind your teeth while you sleep, mouthguards can help you stop. 

Regular dental checkups and cleanings are a great way to keep an eye on your dental health. Dentists can spot potential problem areas in your teeth and give you recommendations to prevent bigger issues from happening down the road linked to teeth sensitivity. If a deeper issue is causing your teeth sensitivity, such as a cavity, damaged filling, or gingivitis/gum disease, they may recommend a topical treatment, a root canal, or a gum graft to help you find relief.

Find the Cause of Your Teeth Sensitivity with Kimball & Beecher

It’s no secret that sensitive teeth are extremely uncomfortable. Acting fast can prevent the underlying cause from getting worse and wreaking havoc on your dental health and quality of life. Consulting with a dentist is the best way to get to the cause of your teeth sensitivity. 

At Kimball & Beecher, our team of dental experts can pinpoint the cause of your tooth sensitivity and help you come up with an action plan to prevent and treat it. Schedule an appointment today to kick teeth sensitivity to the curb.

About The Author

Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS

Dr. Beau Beecher is the founder and CEO, of Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry. Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry is known for being a patient-centered practice that puts comfort and convenience first. Over 50,000 patients in Iowa cities travel miles to experience the high level of ... read more

Get the smile you've always wantedSchedule an Appointment