Top Causes of Tooth Sensitivity and Tips for Treatment

December 13, 2023

Top Causes of Tooth Sensitivity and Tips for Treatment

Once you understand a few things about your teeth it might make sense why you experience tooth sensitivity and what you can do for relief.

Do you know that “zing” you feel when you are sipping a favourite beverage or enjoying a taste of your favourite food? That uncomfortable and occasionally painful feeling is tooth sensitivity.

It is common for the pain to pass. That is until you feel the “zing” more frequently.

The bigger issue is what could be the cause of your tooth sensitivity to something hot or cold or when biting or chewing. 

Symptoms of tooth sensitivity often have a deeper cause. Once you are aware and understand what is causing your sensitivity issue, there are treatments and tips to provide relief.

Cavity Fillings

Top causes of teeth sensitivity
First, get to know your teeth

Understanding your tooth structure can give insight into why you experience sensitivity issues.

Your teeth contain multiple layers. The primary layers of your tooth structure are most vulnerable to the causes of your sensitive teeth issues.

  • Your enamel is the external and most visible portion of your teeth. It is also known to be among the most durable substances in your body as it protects your teeth from damage.
  • Dentin is the internal portion of your teeth that experiences sensitivity. Your dentin layer contains microscopic “tubes” and pores that convey sensation to your tooth’s inner pulp or nerve.

Knowing the portions of your teeth that are vulnerable to sensitivity issues can help you prevent them.

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What causes teeth sensitivity?
Weakened and/or eroded tooth enamel
Even though your tooth’s protective enamel is strong it can become weak and worn over time. When this occurs you could experience hot or cold sensitivity.

Your tooth’s dentin becomes more exposed the thinner the enamel becomes. Foods and beverages that are high in acid content are often the leading culprits of enamel erosion.

Brushing your teeth too aggressively
Using too much force with a hard bristled brush can wear down your protective tooth enamel. Be mindful of your tooth brushing technique and apply lighter pressure as you cover each tooth surface.  Be sure to use a soft-bristled brush only.

Receding gums
Your gum tissue has a protective function much like your tooth enamel. Gums protect the more sensitive lower portions of your teeth and your tooth roots. Teeth sensitivity occurs when the recession of your gum tissue allows the root portion to be exposed.  Exposed root surfaces are subject to sensitivity.

Gum disease
Plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth allows oral bacteria to multiply and thrive. Tartar and plaque deposits cause gingivitis and eventually gum disease which can lead to gum recession, sensitivity, and eventual tooth loss.

Tooth Decay
Plaque deposits on teeth can cause tooth decay.  Advancing tooth decay will eventually cause cavities which will contribute to tooth sensitivity, pain, and eventual tooth loss. 

Teeth grinding and clenching
Your protective tooth enamel can also become worn and weakened when you clench or grind your teeth. Those vulnerable tooth surfaces are then more susceptible to temperature changes.

Damaged teeth
A tooth that is broken, cracked, fractured, or that has a damaged dental restoration could result in a cavity or an opening. Eating, drinking, or chewing could prompt a sensitivity problem in those exposed areas.

Other health and dental conditions
Your general health issues can also cause your teeth to be sensitive. 

  • Acid reflux
  • Lifestyle choices including your diet
  • Medications

Some dental procedures heighten your teeth’ sensitivity. Consult with your dentist in Winnipeg about dental treatment that could create sensitive teeth issues.

How to treat tooth sensitivity
Seek professional treatment for tooth sensitivity

A good place to start is with a dental examination. This allows you to discuss the symptoms you are feeling, how often you experience sensitivity to hot or cold, and the specifics about when you feel sensitivity issues. 

Your dentist will often recommend a variety of treatment solutions for tooth sensitivity.

  • Oral rinses, fluoride gels, and other topical treatments can help desensitize your teeth.
  • Daily use of sensitivity reducing toothpastes with therapeutic ingredients
  • Treatment with dental sealants can be applied to the surface of your teeth.
  • Dental treatments including a filling, tooth crown, or a root canal can provide relief from more serious sensitivity issues and cavities.

Use at-home prevention and treatment tips for teeth sensitivity 

  • Be consistent with your oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth a minimum of two times per day (morning and bedtime) and use a toothpaste that is designed for sensitive teeth and contains fluoride.
  • Replace your toothbrush within a two to three month period. Use a soft bristled brush only.  Monitor the quality of your toothbrush bristles and replace your toothbrush if you notice worn bristles.
  • Watch your brushing technique. Avoid gum tissue damage by brushing in small, gentle, and circular motions.
  • Consult with your dentist if you think you might be grinding or clenching your teeth at night.
  • Keep an eye on your diet. Reduce your consumption of foods and beverages that are high in acid and sugar content.
  • Consult with your dentist before using any at-home teeth whitening products. Ask about their potential for causing teeth sensitivity.
  • Take responsibility for your oral health by scheduling routine dental check-ups. Give your dentist the opportunity to examine the health of your teeth and gums. 

The following resource provides some additional insight for helping you get some relief from sensitive teeth: The Best Toothbrush for Sensitive Teeth

Contact your dentist in Winnipeg about your teeth sensitivity problems. Schedule an appointment to determine the cause of your sensitivity and find a solution for the pain and discomfort.