What causes teeth sensitivity?

Young Asian woman brushing teeth with sensitive teeth and looking in the mirror.

Find out what is causing your teeth to feel sensitive, how to get relief from sensitive teeth, and how to avoid future discomfort due to tooth sensitivity. 

What to do about sensitive teeth

Nobody likes the feeling of sensitive teeth. Eating ice cream can feel like you just froze your face right off. But what is causing this pain in sensitive teeth? Sensitive teeth are usually caused by worn-down tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots. Sometimes it may be caused by a cavity, a cracked or chipped tooth, a worn filling, or even gum disease. When dealing with sensitive teeth you should see your dentist so that he or she can figure out what is causing the problem and get you the right treatment for your circumstance.

Here are some things your dentist may recommend to help: 

  • Desensitizing toothpaste: This is a toothpaste that helps block the pain from sensitive teeth.
  • Fluoride application: Your dentist might apply fluoride to sensitive areas to help strengthen your teeth.
  • Desensitizing or bonding: Some exposed root surfaces can be treated when you apply a bonding resin to the sensitive root surfaces.
  • Surgical gum graft: When your tooth root has lost gum tissue, gum tissue from another point in your mouth can be taken and attached to the sensitive area.
  • Root canal: Your dentist may recommend a root canal if your pulp is inflamed.

How to prevent sensitive teeth

The best way to prevent sensitive teeth is by practicing good dental hygiene. Make sure to brush your teeth twice daily, use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and floss your teeth daily. Brushing more gently can be helpful too; some people brush so hard they scrape their enamel right off. You may also want to consider your diet, as highly acidic foods and drinks can remove your enamel as well.