7 Reasons Your Teeth are Sensitive

tooth sensitivity

When you drink something hot or cold, do you feel a zing in your teeth? One in eight people suffer from oversensitive teeth, according to a survey of U.S. dental offices reported in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Teeth become sensitive when the enamel on the outside, or the tissue between the teeth and gums, wears down and exposes nerves that connect to the inside of the teeth.

Consider seven reasons why your teeth may be sensitive as featured in Women’s Health.

1. Cracked tooth – The enamel outside the tooth can be cracked when biting on something hard, such as ice or a popcorn kernel. This exposes the nerves inside the tooth, causing a painful reaction when eating or drinking something hot or cold.

2. Dental work – After decay is removed and filled, the tooth may be sensitive to temperatures or you may notice pain when chewing foods. If the problem persists for more than a few weeks, contact your dentist.

3. Teeth grinding – Some people experience oral pain because they clench their jaw or grind their teeth while sleeping. Teeth that are misaligned can result in jaw imbalance, leading to grinding or clenching. Your dentist may need to adjust teeth to create a proper bite, or prescribe a mouth guard to allow the jaw to relax.

4. Sinus infection – Tooth roots rest close to the sinuses. When an infection develops in the sinuses, swelling occurs and creates pressure against the roots, causing pain.

5. Tooth trauma – A blow to the mouth caused by an accident can create oral pain and sensitivity, especially when chewing. Signs of trauma can suddenly occur years after the initial incident. Consult your dentist to determine the cause.

6. Gum disease – About half of the U.S. adult population, age 30 and older, have mild, moderate, or severe gum diseases (also known as periodontitis), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease develops when oral bacteria is not removed from teeth and gums, allowing tooth decay or a gum infection to develop. Remember to brush twice daily for two minutes each time, and floss daily. Schedule dental checkups once or twice a year as directed by your dentist.

7. Aggressive brushing – Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to remove food particles and bacteria from tooth surfaces. Place the brush against the gums and use gentle, circular motions to clean teeth. Avoid applying too much pressure, this can wear down tooth enamel and push gums up, creating pain and providing a rich environment for bacteria to attack and create decay.

Learn more tips for good adult dental care.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Women’s Health

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