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Blond woman smiling at the mirror while brushing teeth.Blond woman smiling at the mirror while brushing teeth.

Sensitive Teeth: Causes, Treatments, and Special Care Tips

By: BeSeen Team

Date: May 17, 2023

Imagine drinking your morning coffee or enjoying your favourite ice cream when suddenly you feel pain in your mouth. Your sensitive teeth are acting up – usually during the most inopportune time. 

Sensitive teeth can be frustrating, but you’re not alone. This condition is fairly common. After all, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 35.7% of the market for sensitive toothpaste. 

Sensitive teeth can make certain enjoyable habits such as eating, drinking, and even brushing your teeth quite uncomfortable because of the sharp, sudden pain. It occurs when the protective enamel layer surrounding the teeth has worn down or when the gum line is receding, exposing your dental roots. Other factors, such as a cavity, a cracked or chipped tooth, a worn filling, or gum disease, may also cause this discomfort. 

What Causes Sensitive Teeth 

A cross-section of a tooth.
The enamel and the dentin are the two hardest parts of your body.

The quickest explanation for sensitive teeth is weakened enamel or exposed roots. Discomfort at seemingly ordinary activities is a telltale sign, especially when you’re consuming food or drink at extreme temperatures or perhaps enjoying sweet or acidic.  

But how does this sensitivity happen? Here are some things that could be wearing your teeth out. 

You brush too hard.  

While brushing is still the best way to protect your teeth from cavities, you might be overdoing it. Overbrushing or using a toothbrush with firm bristles is painful and causes the enamel to erode, potentially exposing the dentin, a sensitive layer of tissue underneath the enamel.  

Your gums are receding.  

Are your gums receding? Periodontal disease and smoking can cause this, but so can aggressively brushing over time. Gum recession can expose the tooth roots, which contain tiny nerve endings sensitive to specific food and drinks.  

You grind your teeth.  

Do you grind or clench your teeth without realising it? Perhaps you even do it while you’re asleep or stressed. Bruxism can wear down the enamel, leading to sensitive teeth 

You may have cavities or tooth decay.   

Cavities can cause tooth sensitivity if they reach the pulp of the tooth, which contains nerves and blood vessels.  

You love acidic foods and beverages.  

Oranges do terrific things for your health but don’t enjoy them too much. A study on Malaysian students’ dietary habits shows that acidic items, such as soda, wine, or citrus fruit can wreak havoc on your teeth – especially if you don’t brush after.  

You just went through a dental procedure.  

If you feel your teeth have become more sensitive after a dental procedure such as teeth whitening, filling, or veneer installation, relax! It’s normal for these procedures to cause temporary sensitivity. Don’t forget to ask your dental specialist about any potential side effects after treatment so you can prepare accordingly.  

You’re getting older.   

As you age, your enamel naturally gets thinner, exposing the dentin. The dentin is your tooth’s secondary support system after the enamel. While still made of tough material, it’s softer than the surface and has tubules that are susceptible to stimuli. 

Treatments for Sensitive Teeth

Dark-haired woman getting a dental checkup.
Fixing sensitive teeth boils down your dental care.

Can sensitive teeth go away on their own? No, not without special care. The sad news is your dental enamel, the hardest material in your body, does not regenerate. It means you have to take care of what you have as much as possible. Here’s what you can do. 

1. Start with a soft-bristled toothbrush. 

They feel gentle on your gums and the dental surface, preventing further damage or decay.

2. Be consistent with your oral hygiene practices. 

Brushing and flossing consistently can help remove plaque and prevent cavities, which can be causes of receding gums. You could also try a desensitising toothpaste to help block nerve endings and reduce pain. You could also use fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen or re-fortify your enamel. Again, ask your dentist for your best options. 

3. Make changes to your diet. 

A balanced, calcium-rich and vitamin D-heavy diet can help strengthen your teeth. Ditto on limiting your consumption of acidic foods and beverages, or, at least, use a straw to minimise contact with your teeth.

4. Get professional advice and treatment.

If worse comes to worst, your orthodontist may suggest veneers or laminates to “replace” your eroded enamel. It’s necessary to get checked by an actual dental practitioner to help you understand your oral condition. They may be able to make recommendations on how you can up your dental care strategy, from using an electric toothbrush to using aligners, like ClearCorrect, to fix any crookedness or misalignment that might compromise your oral hygiene.  

Being a sensitive person is okay, but having sensitive teeth is not. Go on, enjoy that ice cream with these tips. 

 

References: 

West, N. X., Lussi, A., Seong, J. K., & Hellwig, E. (2013). Dentin hypersensitivity: pain mechanisms and aetiology of exposed cervical dentin. Clinical Oral Investigations, 17(S1), 9–19. 

Zahara, A. M. (2012b, June 1). Relationship between Food Habits and Tooth Erosion Occurrence in Malaysian University Students. PubMed Central (PMC). 

Sensitive Toothpaste Market share , Size | Industry Growth 2031. (n.d.). Allied Market Research. 

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