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What Causes Sensitive Teeth - How to Take Care

A Botany graduate, Nithya Venkat enjoys researching and writing about topics that interest her.

Sensitivity in Teeth

Sensitivity in Teeth

A sudden tingling sensation, pain, or discomfort when extremely hot or cold food comes in contact with your teeth is usually the result of your teeth becoming overly sensitive. This can make drinking hot soup or ice cream a painful process.

Tooth sensitivity can affect one tooth, several teeth, or all the teeth in the mouth. It can be a temporary or a chronic problem.

To understand what teeth sensitivity is, you need to know the tooth's basic structure.

  • human tooth has two distinct parts - the crown and the root
  • the crown of the tooth is the part that is seen above the gums
  • the root of the tooth is the part deeply embedded in the jawbone

The crown of the tooth is made up of enamel and dentine.

The enamel is the hard, strong outer covering that protects the tooth above the gums. The enamel is made up of calcium phosphate and is the strongest structure in the human body.

The dentine is made up of soft tissue, which secretes a mineral-like substance that hardens to form the enamel.

The tooth's root is made up of the dentine below the gums, soft pulp, and the central tooth cavity. The dentine runs through the entire tooth structure, from the crown to the root.

Beneath the dentin is the soft pulp with nerve endings and blood vessels that branch off from the main artery and the nerve.

In the center, there is a cavity that encloses the main artery and nerve.

The cementum is the connective tissue that firmly attaches the root to the bone and protects the dentin below the gums.

Tooth Structure

Tooth Structure

What causes sensitivity in your teeth?

Tooth sensitivity is most commonly caused by food and beverages that are too hot or too cold. Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by acidic and sweet food and beverages.

Other Causes for Teeth Sensitivity

1. Acid eating away the enamel exposing the dentine.

2. Cementum being pulled away, exposing the root due to hard brushing.

3. The enamel being eroded by the acidity in the food or beverages.

4.Receding gums can leave sections of the tooth exposed and unprotected causing sensitivity.

5. Tooth decay, broken or worn down, or chipped teeth can leave the dentin exposed, causing sensitivity.

6. Biting hard substances can cause the enamel to crack and give way resulting in increased sensitivity.

7. Grinding teeth while sleeping can slowly wear off the enamel, causing cavities that expose the dentin and increase sensitivity.

8. Old dental fillings can crack easily, expose the dentin and the pulp beneath, causing sensitivity.

9. Chronic or temporary ailments related to the teeth can cause sensitivity of teeth.

10. Your teeth may become sensitive after getting fillings or crowns or after bleaching teeth.

11. Gum disease that results in inflamed and sore gum tissue may cause sensitivity because of the loss of supporting ligaments which exposes the root surface that leads directly to the nerve of the tooth.

12. Tooth whitening products or toothpaste with baking soda and peroxide can cause tooth sensitivity because baking soda and peroxide are major contributors to tooth sensitivity.


How to take care of sensitive teeth?

Use toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth; this toothpaste helps repair enamel, defends the teeth against erosion, and protects the gums. It also blocks the discomfort due to the sensitivity from traveling to the nerve of the teeth.

Use a mouthwash that is alcohol-free because this will not irritate sensitive teeth.

Do not brush very hard. Brushing hard will damage the enamel and hurt your gums.

Use a toothbrush with soft or medium bristles; hard bristles can damage the enamels and gums.

Visit a dentist at least once in six months. Treat any problem with your teeth immediately.

Replace dental fillings and caps if you feel that they have been damaged.

If you have sensitive teeth, avoid whitening your teeth. Whitening increases sensitivity in your teeth.





This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Nithya Venkat


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on September 04, 2012:

Mama Kim 8 thank you for your visits. Sensitive teeth must be attended to immediately or else they cause many other problems. Thank you for your vote and share.

Sasha Kim on September 03, 2012:

Wonderful advise! This is exactly what my dentist said ^_^ voted and shared!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 28, 2012:

OMG that must have been painful, take care. I hope your sensitivity has gone down by now.

Andy Aitch from UK & South East Asian Region on July 26, 2012:

Hi Nithya (is that a Thai name?)

I wish someone would tell the today's aggressive dentists how to take of patients sensitive teeth LOL :) Last time I had mine cleaned you may have well just plugged me into the mains sockets and called it torture.

He told me, before beginning the cleaning operation, to raise my right hand if the pain got too much. After enduring about 60 seconds of undiluted agony, I just had to raise that hand. He didn't stop! Just kept saying, "Almost done now. Nearly there!", and so he continued.

The top back teeth are the most sensitive, but since that last visit they are now super-sensitive no thanks to HIM :(

Btw, I think my sensitivity is caused by receding gums. Will heed your suggestions in this hub ;-)

Andy Aitch

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 17, 2012:

dinkan53 thank you for the visit and the vote.

teaches12345 thank you. Soft drinks are very bad for the teeth, I drink water instead, even though I am really tempted by coke.

Dianna Mendez on July 17, 2012:

I have heard how soft drinks erode enamel. It is rather a strong acidic drink that would affect teeth structure. Great hub and so very useful. Voted up.

dinkan53 from India on July 17, 2012:

A useful informative hub. Watch what you eat and proper oral hygiene can maintain healthy gums and teeth. Rated your hub as useful.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 17, 2012:

KatrineDM thank you for stopping by and leaving a wonderful comment.

freetipstime thank you for your appreciation.

KatrineDM on July 17, 2012:

Wonderful hub and a great advice for everybody. Thank you.

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