For many people, tooth sensitivity is a constant problem. Depending on the severity, tooth sensitivity can cause pain when eating, drinking, brushing, and even breathing. People with sensitive teeth may experience sharp, shooting pain when their teeth are exposed to extreme temperatures as well as sweet or spicy foods.

The fear of pain can make those affected avoid many of the things they used to enjoy. Tooth sensitivity occurs when tooth enamel wears down, exposing the dentin. People may also experience tooth sensitivity when receding gums expose the layer covering the root of the tooth. It’s important to note that other factors can cause tooth pain as well. Cavities, worn fillings, gum disease, and cracked teeth can lead to significant discomfort. It’s important that anyone experiencing tooth pain gets evaluated by a dentist to address any underlying conditions or causes.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Multiple factors can contribute to tooth sensitivity including:

Overzealous Brushing

Although it’s extremely important to brush twice a day, brushing with too much force or using a hard-bristled toothbrush and/or abrasive toothpaste as opposed to a quality dental gel can wear down tooth enamel over time. This is one of the leading causes of sensitive teeth.

Tooth Grinding
When people grind or clench their teeth, it can cause damage to the tooth enamel and expose the dentin.

Dental Procedures
It’s common to experience increased sensitivity or discomfort after a root canal, extraction, or the placement of a bridge or crown. This type of sensitivity shouldn’t last for a long period of time. If it does, it could indicate an infection or other dental problem.

Excessive Plaque
Excessive plaque buildup can cause tooth enamel to wear away, exposing tooth dentin and causing pain and sensitivity.

Gum Disease
Receding gums can expose the layer of tooth above the root, causing pain and sensitivity. In order to reduce the amount of tooth sensitivity, individuals need to first to figure out the cause of receding gums. A dentist can help patients determine whether receding gums are caused by gum disease or gingivitis.

Acidic Food
Consuming acidic food and beverages like citrus fruits and soda can damage tooth enamel and weaken the gum line, exposing the dentin and increasing the chance of tooth sensitivity.

Tooth Decay Around Fillings
Although tooth fillings provide an excellent solution for people with cavities and cracked or broken teeth, they don’t always last forever. Over time, fillings can fracture or leak around the edges. These tiny cracks create a breeding ground for bacteria, which slowly eats away at tooth enamel. Fortunately, replacing the filling normally resolves this type of tooth sensitivity.

Sensitive Teeth – A Common Problem

Sensitive teeth is an extremely common problem. According to a recent study, 1 in 8 people experience some form of tooth sensitivity. Sensitive teeth are more common in adults between 20 and 40 years of age, although this condition can affect individuals of any age. While sensitive teeth sometimes indicates a larger dental problem, most of the time individuals can resolve tooth sensitivity by making a few changes to their daily routine.