Why Are My Teeth Sensitive? Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is a common dental issue. You can treat the symptoms of sensitivity, but to truly correct the problem, you need to identify the root cause of the pain with the help of a dentist. Read on to learn about the causes of sensitive teeth, how to treat the condition, and how to prevent more pain.

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Causes of sensitive teeth
(click to learn more about each)

  1. Gum Disease & Gingivitis
  2. Cavities & Tooth Decay
  3. Teeth Grinding & Clenching (Bruxism)
  4. Crooked & Misaligned Teeth
  5. Tooth Damage
  6. Acidic Foods & Drinks
  7. Overbrushing
  8. Teeth whitening products

 

Gum Disease & Gingivitis

Sensitive teeth can be a sign of gum disease, which is caused by bacteria infecting the gaps between gums and teeth. Gum disease progresses through stages and can cause serious damage if left untreated. If you think you may have gum disease, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Other signs of gum disease include:

  • Sore, swollen, red gums
  • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
  • Receded gumline, making teeth look longer
  • Pockets created by the gumline pulling away from the teeth
  • Pus in gums and between teeth
  • Persistent bad breath and bad taste in mouth

Learn more about gum disease ›

 

Cavities & Tooth Decay

Cavities develop when bacteria feed on plaque. The acid produced by the plaque and bacteria that feed on the food you eat can cause your teeth to decay. This can lead to cavities and erosion, which in turn lead to sensitive teeth.

Other symptoms of cavities include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Regular bad breath or a bad taste
  • Spots on your teeth

Learn more about cavities ›

 

Teeth Grinding & Clenching (Bruxism)

Do you wake up in the morning with sensitive teeth and an aching jaw? These are signs of bruxism, a condition that causes people to involuntarily grind their teeth, often while sleeping. Occasional teeth grinding and clenching does not cause health issues, but when the problem is very consistent, teeth can become loose or damaged. It can also affect your jaw and cause persistent pain.

Other symptoms of teeth grinding include:

  • Persistent headaches or sore jaw after sleeping
  • Loose, worn or damaged teeth
  • Sore jaw muscles

Learn more about teeth grinding ›

 

Crooked & Misaligned Teeth

Crooked teeth, known medically as malocclusion, can be caused by several factors. You may naturally develop an overbite, underbite or a small mouth that causes teeth to become crowded. Crooked teeth can also be caused by premature loss of baby or adult teeth, excessive pressure on the mouth or jaw, gum disease, injury, and prolonged thumb sucking or use of a bottle.

Other symptoms of misaligned teeth include:

  • Unusual teeth alignment
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Speech problems
  • Misaligned jaw

Learn more about misaligned teeth ›

 

Tooth Damage

You may experience tooth sensitivity if your tooth is chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged. Tooth damage can sometimes be a purely cosmetic concern, but at times can lead to other dental problems.

Other symptoms of a damage tooth include:

  • A visible chip or crack in the tooth
  • A spot of rough texture on your tooth
  • Pain while chewing

 

Acidic Foods & Drinks

Acidic foods and drink can lead to teeth sensitivity by damaging the enamel, the protective outer layer of your teeth. As enamel wears away, it exposes the sensitive, nerve-filled inner portion of your teeth.

Here is a list of common acidic foods and drinks that can cause teeth sensitivity:

Acidic drinks

  • Sports drinks
  • Orange juice, lemonade, and other fruit juices
  • Coffee
  • Wine
  • Sodas

Acidic foods

  • Citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit)
  • Tomatoes and other fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Bread and many grains
  • Corn
  • Sour cream
  • Aged cheese
  • Pickled foods
  • Sour candies

 

Overbrushing

It is essential to brush your teeth daily to maintain oral hygiene and prevent gum disease and other dental problems. However, brushing too hard can damage the enamel, the protective outer layer of your teeth, causing tooth sensitivity and receding gums.

Removing plaque does not require much force. If you find yourself brushing too hard, switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and practice lighter brushing for longer periods of time.

 

Teeth whitening products

If you are bleaching your teeth with whitening products, you may experience sensitivity during and after the use of the product. You can use desensitizing products to reduce symptoms. If sensitivity is severe or long-lasting, visit your dentist to identify other potential causes of your pain.

 

 

What to do if you have sensitive teeth

You should visit your dentist to identify the root cause of the sensitivity. In the mean time, keep the below factors in mind if you are experiencing tooth sensitivity.

Preventing & treating sensitive teeth

Prevent tooth sensitivity by doing these things:

  • Brush and floss your teeth daily
  • Use a soft bristle tooth brush
  • Try a desensitizing tooth paste
  • Brush more gently
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks like soda, juice, and sticky candy
  • Use a night guard to prevent teeth grinding in your sleep
  • Visit the dentist to identify the cause of your sensitivity and explore treatments
  • Learn more about the potential causes of tooth sensitivity

 

Your Dentist in North Georgia

If you live in Gainesville, Georgia or the North Georgia area, schedule an appointment with Dr. Dixon and he’ll work with you to treat the root cause of your teeth sensitivity. Learn more about Dr. Dixon and his staff, or see reviews from our patients.


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