Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?

Knowing a bit more about the structure of your teeth will help you understand the reasons for sensitive teeth.

The outer layer of your teeth is called enamel, and is the strongest part. Underneath the enamel is a soft layer called dentine. The short, sharp twinge of pain you get with tooth sensitivity is caused when the enamel is weakened and the soft dentine inside your tooth becomes exposed, revealing the tiny pores inside it. These pores are the openings to channels that run through your dentine straight to the centre of the tooth where the nerve is. When you eat or drink something cold, hot, sweet or sour, this stimulus can travel through the pores and irritate the nerve, and this is what causes sensitive teeth pain.1

What are the reasons for sensitive teeth?

There are many reasons why you may have sensitive teeth including:

  • Receding gums caused by gum disease.
  • Over-enthusiastic brushing, or brushing with a toothbrush that’s too hard.
  • Eating and drinking too many acidic foods and drinks.
  • Grinding your teeth.
  • Tooth decay, or injury to your teeth.
  • A recent dental procedure.2

Who’s most likely to be vulnerable to sensitive teeth causes?

Anyone can suffer from sensitive teeth, but it’s more common in people between the ages of 20 and 40, and women are more likely to experience sensitive teeth than men.3

How should I deal with sensitive teeth?

One of the ways you can deal with this problem is by using a fluoride toothpaste for sensitive teeth to brush your teeth twice a day.

Other ways of preventing what causes sensitive teeth include:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day, in the morning and just before you go to bed, using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth that contains at least 1,350 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride. Use small, circular motions with a soft toothbrush. The NHS recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes each time.
  • Change your toothbrush every three to four months.
  • After eating, wait a while before brushing your teeth.
  • Try to avoid sugary foods, and fizzy or acidic drinks.
  • If you grind your teeth, ask your dentist about having a custom-made mouth guard.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups.4

What causes tooth pain?

Tooth pain causes include:

  • Tooth decay.
  • Dental abscesses.
  • Cracked or damaged teeth, or a loose or broken filling.
  • An infection, which often happens when a new tooth (like a wisdom tooth) is emerging, but it hasn’t broken through the skin yet.

Visit your dentist if you experience ongoing discomfort, so that they can identify the real cause of tooth pain for you, and treat it.5

How can I prevent the causes of tooth pain?

Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day to stop plaque building up. If you’re an adult, your toothpaste should include at least 1,350ppm of fluoride. Children can use the same toothpaste as adults to prevent the causes of tooth pain, although children under three should just use a small smear. You can use either a manual or electric toothbrush to prevent sensitive teeth causes.6

 

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  1. Sensitive Teeth – Causes and Treatment, Dental Care. https://www.dentalcare.co.uk/en-gb/patient-education/patient-material/what-causes-sensitive-teeth; Accessed 26/02/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
  2. Sensitive Teeth – Causes and Treatment, Dental Care. https://www.dentalcare.co.uk/en-gb/patient-education/patient-material/what-causes-sensitive-teeth; Accessed 26/02/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
  3. Sensitive Teeth (Who Suffers from Sensitive Teeth), Dental Health. https://www.dentalhealth.org/sensitive-teeth; Accessed 26/02/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
  4. Sensitive Teeth (How Can I Prevent Sensitive Teeth?), Dental Health. https://www.dentalhealth.org/sensitive-teeth; Accessed 26/02/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
  5. Toothache (Causes of Toothache), NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/toothache/; Accessed 26/02/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
  6. How to Keep Your Teeth Clean, NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-keep-your-teeth-clean/; Accessed 26/02/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.