Ouch! That hurts! Sensitive teeth are a terrible nuisance! You can’t concentrate when you’ve got sensitive teeth because each breath brings with it a bunch of pain. Even touching your teeth with your tongue can be painful and I’ve found it’s especially bad during a sudden climate change – my teeth go nuts! And so do I!
So what causes sensitive teeth? Basically, any sort of exposure of your dentin will cause discomfort or pain. Dentin is the soft layer of your teeth that sits under your enamel.
Receding gums can cause your dentin to be exposed. This can be caused by gum disease or brushing too hard.
Aging, especially between the ages of 25 and 30. This is unavoidable for most people, especially after 20-odd years of brushing too hard, most people will experience tooth sensitivity around these years. Now would be a good time to switch to a soft toothbrush and start brushing twice a day (if you don’t already) and start flossing!
Using a hard tooth brush is a huge cause of tooth sensitivity. Rather use a softer brush and brush for 2-3 minutes instead of 30 seconds (like most people do).
Brushing regularly will also help with another common cause of sensitive teeth: plaque build-up. A build-up of plaque will lead to gum disease and gum recession which results in sensitivity in the teeth.
Tooth whitening and many other dental procedures can leave your teeth feeling temporarily very sensitive. This will likely last 4-6 weeks maximum. Try using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth during this period to ease the discomfort.
Grinding your teeth will also result in exposed dentine. Consider sleeping with a mouth guard to protect your teeth.
Acidic mouthwashes (like Listerine) will dissolve your enamel over time, as will regularly eating acidic foods. Be careful what you eat and what you gargle. Use a neutral mouthwash and be careful not to eat too many acidy foods. This can help a lot.
Dehydration (including from alcohol or caffeine drinks) can also cause tooth sensitivity. Keep yourself hydrated during all seasons to fend off tooth pain.
Go see your dentist for treatment. This will normally include a teeth cleaning as well as application of a fluoride gel which will strengthen your teeth. Don’t be alarmed if your teeth are temporarily sensitive after the treatment.
I have just started experiencing sensitive teeth. I’m 25, eat plenty of acidic foods, grind my teeth and brush way too hard. Knowing the causes of my sensitive teeth will help me alleviate the problem until I can see my dentist – I’m hoping it will help you too.
Don’t put off seeing your dentist! The longer you put it off, the bigger the problem he or she will have to fix which means more pain for you and an increased chance of losing your teeth in your old age. Take care of them now while you can. Prevention beats cure.