Is Tooth Sensitivity Normal? What it Might Mean if You Have Sensitive Teeth

What is your tooth sensitivity saying

Don’t ignore the signs of tooth sensitivity.

Have your teeth recently started feeling more sensitive to hot and cold? If so, you’re probably feeling curious or even concerned as to why exactly this sensitivity is occurring. 

Tooth sensitivity can range from slightly unpleasant to seriously uncomfortable, and it can be caused by a variety of different things. While tooth sensitivity can often simply result from wear and tear, it’s best not to brush off this sensation, because it can also indicate a more serious issue.

What does tooth sensitivity feel like?

Sufferers of sensitive teeth describe the symptoms in a variety of different ways. But, generally, the primary symptom is a considerable amount of pain in the teeth when they’re exposed to hot or cold beverages, cold air, or sweet or acidic foods. You may also feel pain during your oral hygiene routine

If there is any otherwise harmless outside stimulus that causes you to have a sudden toothache, then it’s most likely due to tooth sensitivity.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

There are various reasons why your teeth might suddenly feel more sensitive than usual. Most of them are related to the wearing down of your tooth enamel. 

Tooth enamel is the hard protective layer on the outside of the tooth. When it is worn down, the extremely sensitive nerves on the inside of the tooth are much more vulnerable to things like fluctuations in temperature, which can result in tooth pain.

1. Brushing Your Teeth too Hard

An easily avoidable way to wear your tooth enamel down and cause your teeth to become sensitive is to brush your teeth harder than necessary. 

Ensuring good dental hygiene doesn’t require much force, but rather proper technique and consistency. Gently brush in small circles all around your teeth for at least two minutes, and do so twice a day, every day. 

You may also want to consider switching out your toothbrush for one with softer bristles. Some people simply have more delicate teeth, and a hard brush can be enough to make them feel more sensitive.

2. Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Sometimes, enamel is worn down by constant unconscious clenching, grinding, or gnashing of the teeth. 

This condition is called bruxism, and it can do quite a bit of damage to your oral health. The grinding can occur during the day (awake bruxism) and at night (sleep bruxism). It can be caused by stress, anxiety, certain medications, and other issues. If you think you suffer from bruxism, you can speak to your dentist about solutions.

3. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay begins when sugary or acidic drinks wear away tooth enamel, creating cavities that will continue to grow unless they are treated. The larger those cavities grow, the more exposed the inner tooth is, which can result in significant sensitivity. 

This is a very common reason why your teeth might suddenly ache when taking a sip of cold water.

4. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is a chronic condition in which the acids from the stomach find their way up through the esophagus, causing discomfort and potentially leading to other issues. One of those issues can be tooth sensitivity, if the acids come into contact with the tooth enamel for long enough.

5. Gum Recession

The gums form a protective layer over the more sensitive parts of your teeth. When your gum line recedes, those newly exposed parts can experience temperature fluctuations, such as from hot or cold beverages, which can cause tooth pain. Gum recession most commonly occurs as a result of untreated gum disease.

6. Dental Work

In some cases, dental work can lead to temporary tooth sensitivity. If your teeth are currently feeling sensitive after a recent visit with your dentist, the sensation should pass soon.

When does tooth sensitivity warrant an emergency dentist visit?

Most of the time, your sensitive teeth are not a reason to panic. This does not mean they should be ignored, however, as there are certain instances in which the sensitivity can indicate a more serious issue. Reach out to your dentist right away if:

You’re in Consistent Significant Pain

If you find that your tooth sensitivity is consistently causing a level of pain that’s difficult to ignore and doesn’t seem to be ceasing, you may have a serious cavity or a tooth infection. Both of these issues should be taken care of as soon as possible.

You’re Displaying Other Signs of Infection

If you’re also experiencing painful chewing, swelling in your face or neck, a fever, or pus around the gum line, your tooth may be infected and needs to be treated as soon as possible.

Need a dentist near Omaha?

When you experience tooth sensitivity, it’s best not to ignore it. The Tooth Doc can conduct an oral exam to determine the cause of your tooth sensitivity and take care of this painful problem. Contact The Tooth Doc to schedule a consultation today.