What are the most common causes of sensitive teeth?

We’ll all experience sensitive teeth at some point in our lives. It’s just a fact of life when it comes to our oral health! There are all sorts of causes for sensitive teeth. Some of them are temporary, and nothing to worry about – such as the sensitivity you might experience after undergoing a dental implant treatment, for example. On the other hand, others might be worth getting checked out, just to be on the safe side. This week on the blog here at AP Smilecare, we’ve rounded up a couple of ways to tell the difference!

What is tooth sensitivity?

In short, exactly what it sounds like. It’s not exactly the most obscure medical terminology! People with sensitive teeth often experience sudden, sharp flashes of pain when their teeth come into contact with rushes of air, cold atmospheres, or sweet, acidic or hot foods. As you can imagine, ice cream is definitely off the table! The severity of tooth sensitivity can vary, and it can sometimes be a symptom of bigger problems with your oral health. It can also come and go over time, again depending on the cause.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth can have all sorts of causes. Here are some of the most common:

OK, so here’s a little more detail.

Brushing too hard

It sounds unfair, but it’s true! Brushing your teeth too aggressively, or with a particularly hard-bristled toothbrush, can gradually wear down your enamel, causing the dentin underneath to become exposed. If you’re not sure what dentin is, essentially it’s calcified living tissue – not something you want exposed to the air! If you’re not sure what qualifies as brushing your teeth too hard, sometimes it’s better to brush them for longer with a gentler approach, rather than in a single minute with an iron grip. Trust us, your teeth will thank you later!

Tooth erosion due to acidic foods

citrus fruits

It’s not something you normally have to worry about as long as you have a sufficiently balanced diet. However, it can be easy to underestimate the amount of acids that can be present in food, especially citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Acids can once again wear away at your protective enamel, leaving your dentin exposed. We’ve talked more about acidic foods here – really, they’re nothing to worry about as long as you’re eating them in moderation!

Cracked teeth or filling

Your teeth (and fillings) are normally pretty hardy, so this is definitely one to watch out for after you’ve had a physical accident, or they’ve suffered some kind of impact. If one of your teeth has become cracked, it can fill with bacteria from plaque, which can even lead to abscess and infection. If you’ve suffered some kind of impact, always book an appointment with your dentist just in case!

Gum recession or gum disease

It’s generally not something you have to worry about when you’re a younger adult, but all of us will experience gum recession at some point in our lives. Up to 80% of people have some form of gum recession by the time they’re 65, and it also happens very frequently with people suffering from gingivitis or the more advanced periodontal disease, which can occur if you’re not taking proper care of your oral health. Both factors can ultimately leave teeth with less protection, making them more vulnerable and sensitive.

Long term use of mouthwash

This is another one that can seem a little unfair, right off the bat. After all, it’s supposed to keep your teeth clean, right? Well, yes, but certain mouthwashes can also contain a lot of acids – and we’ve outlined the problems with those above! And if your dentin is already exposed, these acids can aggravate it. Choose your mouthwash carefully. If you’re not sure of which one’s best, you can always ask your dentist for recommendations.


Clenching your teeth!

Tooth clenching or grinding can obviously be a big stressor on your oral health. Whenever you catch yourself doing it, stop! If you’re having trouble breaking the habit – once again, you can always ask your dentist.

You’ve recently had a dental procedure

Sensitive teeth immediately after a dental procedure is normal, and often a very temporary side effect. If you’ve had braces as a child, you’ll be familiar with the process! Meanwhile, for adults, procedures like teeth whitening can leave your teeth a little more delicate than normal for a short time afterwards, usually only for a few days. Your dentist will be able to give you a rough timescale, depending on the procedure you’ve undergone.

What can you do about tooth sensitivity?

It depends on the cause. If you think it might be because of gum disease or similar infection, visiting your dentist should be your first port of call (are you seeing a pattern here?). Sometimes it’s simply a matter of waiting it out, especially if you’re experiencing it after a dental procedure. Whatever the case, it’s always a good plan to seek out the advice of an expert!

That’s exactly where we come in. Here at AP Smilecare, we’re staffed by a talented team of dental experts, who view your oral health as our absolute top priority. Tooth whitening is just one of the many core dentistry treatments we offer. Why not pay us a visit at our Blackburn dental clinic, or give us a call on 01254 297 000 to see what we can do for you?