There’s nothing like sipping a hot cup of coffee on a chilly morning or taking a big bite of ice cream on a hot day. But when you’re dealing with tooth sensitivity, those enjoyable moments screech to a painful stop. Have you ever wondered what causes sensitivity in teeth, especially when it happens seemingly out of nowhere? If so, you’re not alone. Tooth sensitivity is a common problem that millions of people experience.

Read on to learn about what causes tooth sensitivity and what you can do to treat it.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity –– otherwise known as “dentin hypersensitivity” –– causes pain in one or more teeth, especially when the teeth are exposed to hot and cold temperatures, sugary foods or drinks, and even by breathing cool air. The pain caused by tooth sensitivity may feel sharp and sudden.

This may be a temporary or a chronic problem. While tooth sensitivity can have a number of different causes, most cases of sensitive teeth are easily treated with a change in your oral hygiene regimen.

Below are a few common causes of tooth sensitivity:

  • Gum disease or gingivitis
  • Tooth decay along the gum line
  • Overuse of tooth whitening products
  • Gum recession, which can expose the root surfaces of the teeth
  • Cracked or chipped teeth, which may be vulnerable to infection
  • Clenching or grinding the teeth when sleeping or undergoing stress
  • Regularly exposing your teeth to acidic food or drinks
  • Brushing too vigorously, which can cause the tooth enamel to wear down

Other health conditions can also lead to tooth sensitivity. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) can cause acid to come up from the stomach and esophagus and may wear down teeth over time. Conditions that cause frequent vomiting — including gastroparesis and bulimia — can also cause acid to wear down the enamel.

You might experience temporary tooth sensitivity following dental work like getting fillings, crowns, or teeth whitening. In this case, sensitivity is usually confined to one tooth or the teeth surrounding the tooth that received dental work. Fortunately, sensitivity that occurs after visiting your dentist should subside after a few days.

Treating Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity can be frustrating, and the pain might make you want to avoid properly caring for your teeth. But you don’t have to suffer with painful, sensitive teeth. Fortunately, there are ways that sensitive teeth can be managed.

Be sure to make an appointment with your general dentist if you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity for the first time. They can look at the health of your teeth and check for potential problems like cavities, loose fillings, or recessed gums that could be causing the sensitivity. Your dentist will also check for tooth sensitivity and dental issues that typically cause sensitivity at your regular dental cleanings and check-ups.

There are also at-home remedies that may help. Below are a few great ways to try keeping your sensitive teeth under control:

  • Use toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth
  • Use a fluoride mouthwash, which can decrease sensitivity
  • Continue to take good care of your teeth, even if it’s uncomfortable
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles, or one made for sensitive teeth
  • Keep a food journal and track which foods are triggering your tooth sensitivity
  • Wear a nightguard when you sleep if you believe you grind or clench your teeth while sleeping

As always, practicing healthy dental hygiene habits like brushing your teeth twice a day, flossings daily, and keeping up with visits to your dentist every six months is the best way to care for your smile.

Here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, we believe all of our patients deserve healthy, beautiful smiles. Our team of doctors specializes in restoring smiles and relieving pain. Contact us today to learn how we can help you!