Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that causes discomfort and pain when your teeth come into contact with certain temperatures and substances. As per the American Academy of General Dentistry, 40 million adults suffer from sensitive teeth in America alone.

The condition manifests itself as a sharp and sudden pain of a temporary nature.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitive tooth is a condition that affects anyone young or old alike. The most common symptom of sensitive teeth is a sudden and sharp pain when the teeth are exposed to air, cold, acidic, sweet or hot foods or drinks.

Dentin (the calcified tissue of the tooth) contains thousands of microscopic tubules or channels leading to the tooth’s pulp. When exposed to the elements, these dentinal tubules allow hot, acidic, cold, or even sticky substances to reach the nerves inside the tooth and cause pain.
Here are some factors that contribute to sensitive teeth:

  • Gum recession which often happens in people suffering from periodontal disease and exposed the dentin
  • Hard brushing or using a toothbrush that is too hard. As a result, this can wear down the enamel causing exposed dentin and gum recession
  • Cracked teeth which expose the teeth to be filled with bacteria from plaque and cause inflammation in the pulp of the tooth. A cracked tooth may lead to an abscess and infection in more severe cases
  • Clenching and grinding down your teeth can cause enamel to wear down
  • Plaque build up
  • Gingivitis, which is inflamed and sore gum tissue, can result in exposure of tooth’s root
  • Tooth whitening products which contain harsh chemicals to remove stain and can end up thinning the enamel
  • Acidic foods that thin the enamel

Treatment for Sensitive Teeth

Proper diagnosis is vital in treating the condition properly. If a dentist only addresses the pain and fails to determine and address the real cause, the pain will surely recur. Below are some tips how to care for sensitive teeth:

  • Avoid highly acidic food
  • Use mouthwash that has fluoride
  • Avoid grinding teeth, consider using a mouth guard
  • Use a soft bristled brush

Dental Procedures that can Reduce Tooth Sensitivity

  • Surgical gum graft – this will protect the roots and reduce sensitivity if the gum tissue has eroded from the root
  • Bonding crowns or inlays – this solution is used for a tooth flaw or decay that is causing sensitivity
  • Root canal – used as a last resort for severe sensitivity where all methods have failed to work


Tooth sensitivity is a very treatable condition that affects a lot of people in varying levels. It should not, however, hamper you from enjoying your favorite food but it does call for moderation of certain foods and drinks.

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