Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?
Have you ever felt pain or discomfort after a bite of ice cream or a spoonful of hot soup? If so, you’re not alone. While pain caused by hot or cold foods could be a sign of a cavity, it’s also common in people who have sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity, or “dentin hypersensitivity,” is exactly what it sounds like: pain or discomfort in the teeth as a response to certain stimuli, such as hot or cold temperatures. It may be temporary or a chronic problem, and it can affect one tooth, several teeth, or all the teeth in a single individual. It can have a number of different causes, but most cases of sensitive teeth are easily treated with a change in your oral hygiene regimen. Symptoms of sensitive teeth People with sensitive teeth may experience pain or discomfort as a response to certain triggers. You may feel this pain at the roots of the affected teeth. The most common triggers include:
hot foods and beverages
cold foods and beverages
sweet foods and beverages
acidic foods and beverages
cold water, especially during routine dental cleanings
brushing or flossing teeth
alcohol-based mouth rinses
Your symptoms may come and go over time for no obvious reason. They may range from mild to intense. What causes sensitive teeth? Some people naturally have more sensitive teeth than others due to having thinner enamel. The enamel is the outer layer of the tooth that protects it. In many cases, the tooth’s enamel can be worn down from:
brushing your teeth too hard
using a hard toothbrush
grinding your teeth at night
regularly eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages
Sometimes, other conditions can lead to tooth sensitivity. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), for example, can cause acid to come up from the stomach and esophagus, and may wear down teeth over time. Conditions that cause frequent vomiting — including gastroparesis and bulimia — can also cause acid to wear down the enamel. Gum recession can leave sections of the tooth exposed and unprotected, also causing sensitivity. Tooth decay, broken teeth, chipped teeth, and worn-down fillings or crowns can leave the dentin of the tooth exposed, causing sensitivity. If this is the case, you’ll likely only feel sensitivity in one particular tooth or region in the mouth instead of the majority of teeth. Your teeth may be temporarily sensitive following dental work like getting fillings, crowns, or teeth bleaching. In this case, sensitivity will also be confined to one tooth or the teeth surrounding the tooth that received dental work. This should subside after several days. How are sensitive teeth diagnosed? If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity for the first time, make an appointment with your dentist. They can look at the health of your teeth and check for potential problems like cavities, loose fillings, or recessed gums that could be causing the sensitivity. Your dentist can do this during your routine dental cleaning. They’ll clean your teeth and do a visual exam. They may touch your teeth using dental instruments to check for sensitivity, and they might also order an X-ray on your teeth to rule out causes like cavities.