Tooth sensitivity affects around 1 in 8 adults in the United States. Sensitive teeth can cause pain for people when they drink hot or cold foods and beverages.
In the most basic sense, tooth sensitivity is caused by the outer layer of enamel being worn away from the tooth, exposing the second layer of the tooth, known as the dentin.
That is a basic explanation, but what causes the outer layer of enamel to wear away from your teeth? In this post, we will list some of the root causes of sensitive teeth.
Causes of tooth sensitivity
- Brushing your teeth too hard
- Using a toothbrush with hard, stiff bristles
- Overuse of acidic mouthwash
- Eating too many acidic foods
- Using a tooth whitening toothpaste
- Performing tooth whitening at home
- Grinding your teeth
- Receding gums
- Recent dental work
- Gum disease
- Excessive plaque
- A cracked tooth
- Tooth decay
Using a toothbrush with hard, stiff bristles
Brushing too hard with a very stiff toothbrush can wear away your tooth enamel over time. It can even cause your gums can pull away from tooth roots. It is not necessary to brush your teeth so hard. Gently brushing your teeth is effective enough and won’t damage your enamel
Overuse of acidic mouthwash
Sometimes people can be too enthusiastic about using mouthwash. Some mouthwashes and rinses may contain alcohol and acidic compounds that can make already-sensitive teeth worse.Try limiting your rinsing to once or twice a day or skip the mouthwash and be better about flossing instead.
Eating too many acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits and juices can wear away at your enamel. Besides cutting down on the amount of them you consume, you can try cutting the acid in your mouth with a piece of cheese or glass of milk after eating.
Related: Worst foods for your teeth
Using a tooth whitening toothpaste
Many special teeth whitening kinds of toothpaste can have chemicals that may cause sensitivity in people. You may need to switch to one without whitening agents or ask your dentist for a recommendation.
Related: Myths about white teeth
Performing tooth whitening at home
Home tooth whiteners and with peroxide-based ingredients may cause sensitive teeth. This can go away when you discontinue use.
Related: How does tooth whitening work?
Grinding your teeth
Over time, grinding or clenching your teeth can wear down your outer layer of enamel, causing tooth sensitivity.
Related: Teeth grinding
The roots of your teeth are usually covered by a layer of gum tissue. If you have periodontal disease, the gums can begin to recede away from the root of the tooth and expose the sensitive part of your teeth, resulting in a sensitivity to temperatures.
Related: Periodontal gum disease treatment
Recent dental work
Teeth cleanings, replacement crowns, tooth restorations, and root planing can all cause tooth sensitivity. These should only be temporary until your teeth have had time to recover. If it doesn’t go away, call your dentist to make sure there is not an infection.
Gingivitis or periodontitis can cause tooth sensitivity. Visit your dentist for gum disease treatment.
An excessive buildup of plaque can cause tooth enamel to wear away and expose the sensitive dentin or roots. This can be caused by not brushing and flossing as you should or getting regular teeth cleanings from your dentist.
Related: Is gum disease reversible?
A chipped or cracked tooth may cause tooth sensitivity. A cracked tooth can happen from chewing on ice, eating hard candy or wear and tear.
Related: Different types of broken teeth
Tooth decay and cavities can result in your roots or other sensitive parts of your teeth to be exposed. See your dentist to get your decayed teeth treated.
Related: How to treat thinning tooth enamel
There may be options to help ease your sensitive teeth. Contact your dentist today!
Ready for your dental appointment in the Plano, Texas area?
Contact us today to set up your examination. Dr. Wilhite has over 30 years experience helping patients to keep their smiles healthy. He will be able to identify possible issues and recommend further treatments if needed.
We can also talk about affordable financing and dental insurance options to make sure you get the care you need.
Call us at (972) 964-3774
David Wilhite is a Plano Texas Dentist who has helped thousands of patients with a wide variety of dental health issues from general to cosmetic dentistry, Invisalign clear braces, TMJ treatment, dental implants and full mouth restorations.