What Causes Teeth Sensitivity?

Spread the love

Sensitive teeth is something that is hard to ignore. It can really inhibit your everyday activities, such as eating and drinking – especially cold items. If you notice your teeth are sensitive to cold all of a sudden, it could be cause for concern.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

There are several things that can cause sensitive teeth. Generally, if you are experiencing sensitive teeth, the reason is because the tooth’s dentin is exposed.

The dentin is the part of the tooth that is underneath the enamel. It’s job is to protect the nerve filled pulp inside of the tooth. When the dentin becomes exposed, you can feel sensitivity and pain, especially when exposed to hot and cold temperatures, or sugary and acidic substances.

Why are My Teeth Sensitive to Cold all of a Sudden?

If your teeth are sensitive to cold all of a sudden, most likely something has happened to the dentin of your teeth. There are a few possible causes of sudden tooth sensitivity.

  • Gum Recession. When gums recede, the tooth’s roots become exposed, causing sensitivity. This can be caused by genetics and poor oral hygiene.
  • Periodontal Disease. Periodontal, or gum disease causes inflamed gum tissue, which can also cause root exposure.
  • Plaque Build Up. When a lot of plaque builds up on the root of the tooth, you may feel tooth sensitivity, as the plaque is eating away at the tooth’s enamel.
  • Tooth Decay, or cavities can cause tooth sensitivity or sharp pain.
  • Cracked Tooth. A cracked tooth can be a culprit for tooth pain or sensitivity because bacteria can enter the tooth through the crack. If the bacteria reaches the pulp, you may need a root canal.
  • Teeth Grinding. Grinding or clenching teeth can eventually wear down the tooth enamel, causing sensitivity.
  • Brushing Too Hard with a hard bristled toothbrush prematurely wears down tooth enamel and can damage gums.
  • Whitening Products often cause tooth sensitivity because the process makes the teeth temporarily porous. Micro tubules, which lead to dental nerves become exposed. This usually only lasts a few days.

Treatment for Sensitive Teeth

Depending on the cause, tooth sensitivity can be treated at home or by a dental professional. Minor pain relief can be found by using desensitizing toothpaste or by doing a salt water rinse. If the sensitivity is caused by a cavity or cracked tooth, you will need to see a dentist for treatment.

  • Desensitizing toothpaste is the simplest treatment for sensitive teeth, as it is cheap and available over the counter. This special toothpaste is often able to relieve tooth pain after a few applications.
  • A salt water rinse is an antiseptic and reduces inflammation.
  • Bonding can be done if your tooth sensitivity is caused by an exposed root. In this case, resin will be bonded to the exposed area, protecting it from hot and cold temperatures.
  • Fluoride can be applied to teeth to help strengthen the tooth enamel, which can reduce pain.
  • If the tooth sensitivity is caused by decay or other damage to the tooth, a root canal may be needed. A root canal is a procedure in which the pulp of the tooth is removed.
  • Gum grafting can be done for tooth sensitivity that is due to gum problems, such as loss gum tissue. In this procedure, healthy gum tissue is placed over the affected area, covering the exposed tooth root.

How to Prevent Sensitive Teeth

Of course, it’s best to prevent sensitive teeth in the first place. In order to prevent sensitive teeth, it is important to take care of your tooth enamel. Once your tooth enamel gets worn down or damaged, the exposed dentin will cause pain.

First of all, be careful not to brush too hard. It is better to use a soft bristled brush to gently scrub at a 45 degree angle. Also, take precautions at the gum line, as rough brushing at the gum line can cause gum recession.

Another thing that causes gum recession and tooth sensitivity is plaque and tartar build up. To avoid this build up, be sure to floss daily and get professional teeth cleanings twice annually.

Your diet could be the culprit of your sensitive teeth. If you regularly eat sugary, high carb foods such as soda, candy, and sugary cereal, you should switch it up with healthier options. Cheese, yogurt, and fiber rich fruits and vegetables are teeth healthy snacks you can indulge in.


If you find your teeth suddenly sensitive to cold, the likely cause is exposed dentin. This can happen a number of ways, including brushing too hard, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. Desensitizing toothpaste can help for mild cases, but severe cases will require a trip to the dentist for treatment.