What's Causing Your Teeth To Be So Sensitive?

Do you experience a sharp, stinging pain in your teeth whenever you bite into something hot or cold? Tooth sensitivity can prevent you from enjoying some of your favorite foods, but it's a lot more than just a minor annoyance – it's often a symptom of a bigger underlying dental issue. Addressing the issue will alleviate your sensitivity so you can enjoy foods like ice cream and hot chocolate again. Here's a closer look at some of the common dental problems that lead to tooth sensitivity.


If the sensitivity seems to be centered around a single tooth and you haven't been to the dentist for a checkup in a while, then a cavity might be to blame for the sensitivity. Cavities don't usually cause sensitivity until they're pretty large and deep, so it's wise to seek dental treatment promptly if you believe a cavity is making your tooth sensitive. Just because you don't see a spot on your tooth does not mean it's cavity-free, either. Cavities can form where a tooth butts up against another one, and these ones are impossible to see without special dental tools or x-rays.

If your dentist does find a cavity in your tooth, having it filled should eliminate your tooth sensitivity.

Weak Enamel

If the sensitivity seems to be widespread across all of your teeth, there's a chance it can be attributed to weak enamel. When your enamel becomes weak and thin, the nerves in your teeth are more exposed to stimuli like hot and cold foods – so they tend to "overreact." Weak enamel is common among those who don't get enough calcium, magnesium or fluoride. So, make sure you're eating plenty of calcium-rich foods like dairy and leafy greens and also magnesium-rich foods like nuts and seeds. Brush with a fluoridated toothpaste, and make sure the water you're drinking contains fluoride. (Most municipal water contains fluoride, but if you drink bottled water you'll need to check the label to make sure it's one that contains fluoride as not all do.)

Receding Gums

Take a look at your gums. Do they seem to be "peeling back" so that more of the lower portions of your teeth are revealed? Are you experiencing other symptoms of gum disease like red gums or bleeding after brushing or flossing? Your gums may be to blame for your tooth sensitivity. The nerves in the lower portions of your teeth are closer to the surface, so when your gums recede, they become exposed – and this causes pain when you eat hot or cold foods.

You can try treating gum disease on your own by using an antiseptic mouthwash several times per day. If your symptoms don't clear up in a week or two, you'll want to see a dentist. He or she may recommend antibiotics and/or gum grafts to address the problem.

For a local dentist, contact a doctor such as Charles Smith DDS.