The 7 Biggest Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

woman holding an ice cream with a pained expression

Issues with tooth sensitivity affect millions of people across the nation. Some may experience sharp pains in one or two particular teeth, while others may feel a constant discomfort spread throughout their mouth. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel in a tooth is worn away and the gum line recedes, leaving the unprotected root exposed. Certain foods, beverages, and snacks often exacerbate the condition. For some people, even breathing in air that’s too hot or cold can cause significant discomfort. If you’re concerned about your oral health and would like to alleviate the issues associated with it, here are a few of the biggest causes of tooth sensitivity to keep in mind.

Brushing Too Hard

Although you should brush thoroughly several times a day, go easy – brushing too hard can contribute to enamel erosion. Purchasing a new soft-bristled toothbrush can make a huge difference in maintaining your oral hygiene without potentially harming the enamel or exposing the dentin around the gum line.

Tooth Grinding

Tooth grinding, either when awake or asleep, can damage enamel. Those who experience tooth grinding during sleep should speak to a dentist about using a protective mouthpiece during overnight hours.

Harsh Mouthwash

Consider using neutral fluoride instead of mouthwash that contains alcohol or other various chemical components. Everyday mouthwash can contribute to tooth sensitivity, so in some cases it may be better to simply go without it.

Potential Tooth Decay or a Crack

It’s entirely possible that a decaying or damaged tooth is to blame for tooth sensitivity. Visiting a dentist on a regular basis is vital to keeping up with proper oral health. A sudden onset of pain may be a sign that one or two teeth in particular are in severe need of attention and repair. Cavities or any damage done to teeth should be addressed right away before the problem gets out of hand.

Plaque Buildup

A little plaque on the teeth is normal, but when it starts to build up, it could result in tooth sensitivity. Managing plaque can be done easily by simply flossing and brushing on a regular basis, but removing plaque buildup can be difficult, so preventative measures should be a priority.

Acidic Foods and Beverages

Many people who suffer from tooth sensitivity notice that certain foods or drinks tend to trigger the problem. Avoid ingesting too much coffee, tea, alcohol, soda, juices, or other beverages that are highly acidic. Even certain foods with high acid content can contribute to discomfort. Sometimes the slightest change in dietary habits can have a surprisingly positive impact on improving oral health and eliminating tooth sensitivity.

A Recent Visit to the Dentist

It is entirely normal to feel some tooth sensitivity when leaving the dentist after a checkup or procedure. Tooth cleaning, crown placement or tooth restoration can all cause discomfort, but this tends to disappear within a matter of weeks. If you’ve recently had a root canal or a tooth removed, this too will likely cause considerable sensitivity for several weeks.

By understanding the primary causes of tooth sensitivity, it becomes much easier to manage and control the associated symptoms. This affliction doesn’t have to remain a life-long struggle. To learn more about dealing with tooth sensitivity, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist.