Common Causes of Sensitive Teeth

From time to time all of us will suffer with sensitive teeth. But we often wonder why. There are a lot of potential causes. Most are temporary, and nothing to be worried about, including sensitivity that might occur when receiving treatment with dental implants, for example. However, other causes might be more serious.

WHAT IS TOOTH SENSITIVITY?

People tend to experience sensitivity as sudden and sharp pain that might arise when – for example – you eat hot, acidic or sweet foods. The severity will often vary and may come or go from time to time.

Sensitivity might be a symptom of more serious issues with your oral health, so it is always worth discussing with your clinical team.

WHAT CAUSES SENSITIVE TEETH?

Some example include:

  • Recent dental treatment
  • Cracked fillings or enamel
  • Eating too much acidic food
  • Gum disease or recession
  • Brushing too hard
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth.

Recent dental treatment

A temporary side effect of dental treatment is often sensitivity, so this can be expected and will normally subside quickly. Your clinical team will be able to provide further advice if you are concerned.

Cracked fillings or enamel

Natural teeth and the restorations – such as fillings – dentists use to rebuild them are normally pretty strong. However, it is a natural process that both will crack or fail from time to time. If your tooth has cracked, it can fill with bacteria from plaque, maybe leading to abscesses and infection.

This is a common problem with trauma (impact), so if you’ve had an accident, make sure you book an appointment with your clinical team to review.

Eating too much acidic foods

If your diet is fairly balanced then this isn’t normally a problem, but it can be very easy to assume this is the case. Citrus fruits in particular like oranges and grapefruits are great components of a healthy diet, but very acidic. This acid can wear away your protective enamel, leading to sensitivity.

Gum disease or recession

Gum recession is the process whereby your gum tissues shrink and recede, potentially leading to loose or lost teeth.

Up to 80% of people will suffer with some form of gum recession by the time they’re 65. It is common, but it can be much more aggressive in those suffering from gum disease (gingivitis) or periodontal disease. Many people are unfortunately predisposed to this, but it is often made worse by poor oral care and health.

Brushing too hard

Brushing your teeth too hard, or with a particularly hard brush, can gradually wear down your enamel, potentially leading to sensitivity.

Longer and gentler is better than quicker and harder, no matter how stressful your morning routine!

Clenching or grinding your teeth

If you find yourself clenching or grinding your teeth and you can’t stop – say at night – then contact your dentist to discuss options including ‘night guard’ treatment. Obviously clenching or grinding applies unnecessary stress on your teeth, and as well as sensitivity can lead to cracked, broken or lost teeth.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT TOOTH SENSITIVITY?

This very much depends on the cause.

Our Dental Hygienists and Therapists are particularly trained in managing sensitivity and many of the causes that can lead to it. Having a discussion with your clinical team is an essential step to identifying the cause and tackling it.

Of course, sometimes it is perfectly natural and sensitivity can subside as quickly as it arrives.

If you’re unsure or want to discuss a potential concern then why not book an appointment today?