5 common causes of tooth sensitivity

April 20, 2015

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Almost everyone has experienced a moment where a freezing Popsicle or piping hot cup of tea has caused a wince, but if you find that your teeth are constantly sensitive it could be a sign of a larger problem with your dental health. Tooth sensitivity is generally caused by dentin, the layer underneath a tooth's enamel, being exposed, according to Colgate.1 Whereas enamel is incredibly strong, dentin is porous and has tubes that lead to a tooth's nerve. When food is extremely hot or cold, or acidic, it can stimulate these tubes and cause pain. Yet, exposing the dentin in the first place is likely a sign of eroded enamel or another oral care issue - here are five of the most common:

1. Receding gums
Receding gums occur as a symptom of gingivitis or gum disease. Everyday Health notes that this problem often occurs with age, but it's also indicative of poor hygienic habits.2 Whereas gingivitis causes inflammation of the gums, gum disease can cause the tissue to detach from the tooth. Gum recession can lead to exposed roots which causes painful sensitivity. 

"Grinding your teeth can occur while you're sleeping."

2. Tooth grinding
Grinding your teeth is a bad nervous habit that you may not even be aware of. Teeth grinding often occurs during sleep, meaning you may be putting a lot of wear and tear on your pearly whites without even realizing it. While tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body, grinding eventually leads to exposed dentin, causing sensitivity. If you are concerned you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist, as he or she will be able to identify signs that this is the case. A dentist will also be able to fit you for a mouth guard so that you don't cause damage to your teeth as you sleep.

3. Too many acidic beverages
If you drink soda and juice every day, the acid may be taking a bigger toll on your teeth than you think. These drinks are major culprits of eroding tooth enamel, which then leaves dentin exposed. If you regularly indulge in these beverages, try to reduce your intake slowly over time and make sure to rinse with water afterward.

4. Cracked or damaged teeth
If you suffer an injury to the mouth, don't delay in seeking out attention from a dentist or specialist. Even if your tooth doesn't chip, pain may be a sign that there is a crack exposing the nerve. Depending on the severity, cracked or broken teeth may require procedures such as a filling, root canal or extraction.

5. Brushing too much or too forcefully
Believe it or not you can brush your teeth too often or with too much force. Over-brushing your teeth wears away at the enamel, and can also injure the gums or expose the roots of the teeth, according to the American Dental Association.3

1 "What causes tooth sensitivity?," Colgate. <a href="http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental

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