sensitive teeth

Sensitive Teeth: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Going out for a meal as a family – or even just going out for ice cream – can be a wonderful experience. There’s a lot of bonding to be had when you sit together at a table.

That is, if the conversation isn’t being stifled by moans of agony every time you take a sip of that hot soup.

Sensitive teeth can be a serious problem. They can make eating less enjoyable – and they can be symptoms of deeper problems.

Today, we’re going to look at the causes, symptoms, and treatments for sensitive teeth. We’ll start with the good news – there’s a wide variety of treatments for sensitive teeth, and they’re all fairly effective.

Let’s get started.


Causes of sensitive teeth

Your enamel is worn down

Enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, and it covers the more sensitive parts of your teeth. Sensitivity will often occur when the enamel is worn away, and sensations can make their way to the nerves in your tooth’s pulp.

There are many potential causes of worn enamel, including:

  • Too many acidic foods
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Brushing too aggressively, or using a hard-bristled toothbrush

Worn enamel is one of the most common causes of sensitive teeth.


Your tooth is damaged

Tooth damage can occur in a number of ways. You might have injured your tooth in an accident. Too much pressure from grinding your teeth, or from biting something you shouldn’t have, can also cause damage.

But, by far, the most common source of damage is from bacteria – which cause cavities. 

When the damage on your teeth is deep enough, sensations can make their way to the nerves of your tooth and cause sensitivity.


Your gums have receded

Receding gums can be caused by a number of things, including:

  • Brushing too hard
  • Periodontal disease
  • Dry mouth (which can have a number of causes, including certain medications)
  • Ageing


When gums recede, the roots of the teeth can become exposed, leading to sensitivity.

You’ve had a dental procedure recently

After certain dental procedures, you can experience sensitivity for a short time. This is especially common after fillings.


Symptoms of sensitive teeth

The symptoms of tooth sensitivity are pretty straightforward. You may have sensitive teeth if you’re experiencing:

  • Pain when you eat hot or cold foods, or certain acidic foods
  • Pain when you brush your teeth
  • Any other unusual triggers that cause pain – especially those related to temperature


Treating sensitive teeth

The treatment for sensitive teeth will depend on the underlying problem causing the sensitivity.

You can get desensitizing toothpaste, but you should know that using it isn’t a cure – except to the extent that toothpaste helps your enamel remineralize. You’re simply numbing the sensitivity – the underlying cause still needs to be addressed. 

In cases where worn enamel is responsible, we can encourage remineralization through the use of fluoride treatments. We can also help you adjust your oral health routine to reduce how quickly your enamel gets worn down.

When your tooth is damaged, we’ll treat the damage. In some cases, the pulp of your tooth may be infected, which can cause recurring sensitivity. We may need to perform a root canal treatment in these circumstances.

Receding gums can be treated rather easily if you have mild periodontal disease – a deep cleaning should restore your gums to health. In rare circumstances, you may need a gum graft to restore lost gums.

The sensitivity caused by dental procedures should disappear on its own within days – though in some circumstances, mild sensitivity will persist for a few weeks. If sensitivity lasts more than a month, if it does not begin to dull after some time, or if it gets worse, contact us right away.

People of any age can have sensitive teeth – and we can help you feel better. Do you have any questions about tooth sensitivity? Consider visiting Kingsway Dental Centre, and we’ll be happy to provide you with any information you need. If you’re looking for a family dentist in Edmonton, get in touch with us.