Why are my teeth sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem where the patient experiences discomfort or pain in teeth to hot or cold temperatures. Everyone is susceptible to tooth sensitivity.

Healthy teeth are protected from sensitivity by a hard layer of enamel which covers the underlying, softer layer of dentine. However, if the enamel layer is worn down or the gum line has receded, then the dentine becomes exposed. Dentine is connected to the nerve that triggers pain in sensitive teeth through thousands of microscopic tubules leading to the tooth’s pulp.

Some factors that contribute to loss of enamel or gum recession causing sensitive teeth may include:

  • Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Gum recession
  • Gingivitis
  • Cracked teeth
  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Plaque build-up
  • Frequently eating acidic foods
  • Undergoing certain dental procedures, such as cleans where there has been a lot of plaque and tartar build up, or deep fillings

Depending on the particular cause of tooth sensitivity, the pain can be managed at home using the following techniques and methods:

  • Desensitising toothpaste. There are many different brands of sensitive toothpaste available for purchase. It is important to consult your dentist about which one is best for you
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and control the amount of pressure you apply to your teeth and gums while brushing
  • Avoid regular consumption of highly acidic foods
  • Always use fluoridated toothpaste, and use a fluoridated mouthrinse if you also prefer
  • Control teeth grinding and clenching. Consider wearing a custom made night guard to help protect your teeth from enamel wear and cracking

There are sometimes more serious reasons for experiencing tooth sensitivity. If your pain is extreme or you have tried the above home care methods and there is still no improvement of your pain, you may require intervention by your dentist. At Corner 32 Dental, Putney, our dentists are available for emergency consultations for assessment and treatment of toothache. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you are concerned.