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Sensitive Teeth Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Tooth sensitivity, or dentin hypersensitivity, is a common dental issue affecting millions. It can be a real pain (quite literally) when you experience sharp, sudden discomfort in your teeth triggered by hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks. But what causes sensitive teeth, and how can you find relief? This blog post dives into everything you need to know about sensitive teeth, from understanding the culprits behind the discomfort to exploring effective treatment options and preventive measures. For personalized care, consult with a Dentist in Surprise, AZ.

Sensitive Teeth

Understanding Tooth Sensitivity

The culprit behind sensitive teeth lies beneath the hard outer layer of your tooth, called enamel. Enamel protects the inner dentin layer, which contains microscopic tubules that lead directly to the tooth nerve. When enamel wears down or gums recede, these tubules become exposed, allowing external stimuli like temperature or acidity to reach the nerve and cause a brief, sharp pang.

Common Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Several factors can contribute to sensitive teeth:

  • Worn Enamel: Overzealous brushing with a hard-bristled brush can wear down enamel over time. Grinding your teeth (bruxism) can also erode enamel.
  • Receding Gums: Gum disease or aging can cause gums to recede, exposing the sensitive dentin layer.
  • Cracked or Chipped Teeth: Cracks or chips in teeth can expose the dentin layer and lead to sensitivity.
  • Exposed Tooth Root Surfaces: This can occur due to gum recession or aggressive dental procedures.
  • Recent Dental Work: Fillings and crowns can sometimes irritate the dentin, causing temporary sensitivity.
  • Diet: Acidic foods and drinks like citrus fruits, soda, and wine can erode enamel over time, contributing to sensitivity.

Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth

The most common symptom of sensitive teeth is a sudden, sharp pain or discomfort in one or more teeth triggered by:

  • Hot or cold foods and beverages
  • Sweet or acidic foods and drinks
  • Cold air inhalation
  • Brushing or flossing teeth (especially with cold water)
  • Certain mouthwashes containing alcohol

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to consult your dentist to determine the cause and discuss suitable treatment options.

Treatments for Sensitive Teeth

The good news is that sensitive teeth are treatable! Depending on the severity and cause of your sensitivity, your dentist might recommend:

  • Desensitizing Toothpaste: These toothpaste contain ingredients like potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride that help block the tubules in the dentin, reducing sensitivity.
  • Fluoride Treatment: Professional fluoride application at the dentist’s office can strengthen tooth enamel and make it more erosion-resistant.
  • Gingival Grafting: If gum recession is the culprit, your dentist might recommend gum grafting surgery to cover exposed tooth roots.
  • Dental Bonding or Crowns: In cracked or chipped teeth, bonding or crowns can protect the exposed dentin and eliminate sensitivity.
  • Nightguards: If teeth grinding is the cause, a custom-made nightguard worn during sleep can protect teeth from further damage and reduce pressure on sensitive areas.

Preventing Sensitive Teeth

Here are some tips to keep your teeth strong and prevent sensitivity:

  • Practice Gentle Brushing: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle brushing technique to avoid wearing down enamel.
  • Use a Desensitizing Toothpaste: Choose a toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth and use it regularly.
  • Mind Your Diet: Limit acidic foods and drinks and rinse your mouth with water after consuming them.
  • Floss Daily: Flossing removes plaque and bacteria buildup that can contribute to gum disease and receding gums.
  • See Your Dentist Regularly: Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings to identify and address potential problems early on.
  • Consider a Mouthguard: Discuss using a nightguard with your dentist if you grind your teeth.

By following these preventive measures and seeking treatment if needed, you can maintain a healthy smile free from the discomfort of sensitive teeth.


Sensitive teeth can be frustrating, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. By understanding the causes and symptoms of sensitivity, you can take proactive steps to prevent it or seek effective treatment.  Whether incorporating a gentle brushing routine, desensitizing toothpaste, or addressing underlying dental problems, solutions are available to achieve a pain-free smile. Consulting your dentist regularly is vital for early detection and personalized treatment plans. Proper care and management allow you to enjoy your favorite foods and drinks without worrying about a zap of pain. So take charge of your oral health, embrace a preventive approach, and get ready to experience the confidence of a pain-free smile!

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