common dental problemsGeneral Dental Information

Tooth Sensitivity, It’s Causes And Possible Treatments

We at Emerald Dental Surgery hope you learnt something from our previous post on the effects of smoking on your oral health as it is a very important topic. On today’s post, we will be talking about tooth sensitivity, its causes and possible treatments.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

When acidic foods and drinks or breathing in cold air makes your teeth painful then you have tooth sensitivity.

The pain is usually sudden and sharp but is temporary. It is actually a very common problem among people between the ages of 20 and 40 although sometimes it also affects some people in their early teens or a few over the age of 70. Sensitivity can start at any time but fortunately, it is treatable.

What Are The Causes Of Tooth Sensitivity?

The teeth have an outer layer called enamel that protects the dentine underneath which is usually softer. When this soft dentine is exposed the tooth becomes sensitive.

Here are some causes of tooth sensitivity

Tooth abrasion

Whenever you brush your teeth too hard using a hard-bristled toothbrush or use the wrong brushing technique, you could wear down your enamel. This will expose the tiny hollow tubes or canals that lead to your nerves. When this happens, your teeth become sensitive and you will experience discomfort when you eat some foods or in different temperatures.

Gum recession

This is usually as a result of a build-up of plaque or tartar that subsequently causes receding of the gums down to the tooth and could also destroy the bony tooth support. Receding gums are increasingly becoming common with age to those who do not observe routine dental care and could lead to tooth sensitivity.

Eating acidic foods

Another cause of tooth sensitivity is consumption of acidic foods and drinks which leads to dental erosion. Dental erosion refers to the loss of enamel through chemical processes. This will expose the dentine underneath and when the pathways to the nerves are exposed, you will experience sensitivity. Such acidic foods include tomato sauce, kiwi, and pickles among others.

Tooth grinding

Some people have the habit of clenching and grinding their teeth together. Even though the enamel is strong, doing this can wear it down because by doing so, you expose the dentine.

Dental Procedures

Some patients might experience sensitivity for a period of time during and after certain dental procedures like teeth bleaching, crown replacement, scaling, among others. Usually the pain will disappear after a few days to a number of weeks.


Tooth decay causes cavities that lead to tooth irritation. The cavities will make you experience pain in your teeth and gums making them sensitive. The extent of sensitivity is dependent on the extent of tooth decay. That said, whether you are experiencing mild or severe symptoms of cavity you should see a qualified dentist as soon as possible.

Cracked teeth

Another cause of tooth sensitivity is cracked teeth. Whenever your tooth cracks or chips, you could experience extreme pain and sensitivity.  A dentist would need to do a proper evaluation of the tooth in order to decide how to go about the treatment.

When there’s decay around edges of fillings

When you have had fillings for a long period of time, they could start to weaken, fracture or even leak around the edges. When this happens, bacteria easily accumulates in the tiny crevices causing an acid build up that leads to enamel breakdown. This subsequently becomes a cause of tooth sensitivity.

Having talked about the causes of tooth sensitivity, it is worth mentioning some of the remedies for this dental condition.

Upon realizing that you have tooth sensitivity, you should visit a qualified dentist for appropriate dental treatment. The dentist will then recommend the right procedure as well as some points to observe after the in-office treatment.

Here are some in office treatments for tooth sensitivity upon visiting the dentist

  • Bonding (use of white fillings), crowns or inlays. These are helpful as they will help in fixing a decay in the tooth or any other dental flaw responsible for tooth sensitivity.
  • Application of fluoride gel or varnishes to the exposed root surface.
  • Getting a surgical gum graft that will protect the root and reduce sensitivity in case the gum tissue has eroded from the root.
  • Getting a root canal, which is usually the last resort treatment in case one has severe tooth sensitivity or in case other methods have been tried but have failed.

Here are some treatments for tooth sensitivity that the dentist could advise after the visit

  • Use a desensitizing toothpaste for brushing your teeth. You might have to try a few available brands under the dentist’s advice seeing that there are many of them until you find one that best suits your needs. Be keen to avoid tartar control toothpaste. Instead, use one that is fluoridated.
  • Use a toothbrush that has soft bristles to avoid hurting your gums and exposing the dentine.
  • Try as much as possible to stay away from foods that contain high acid levels.
  • If you like using mouthwashes, opt for fluoridated ones.
  • Avoid grinding your teeth. They could also advise getting a mouth guard.

We at Emerald Dental Surgery hope that this post has helped you in some way to understand more about tooth sensitivity since like we mentioned above, it is very common. In case you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, contact us today. Call 0700609078 or 0731609078 to book an appointment with one of our dentists. They will be happy to help you throughout the treatment process.

Have a great week.

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