Do you have sensitive teeth?

This is the complete guide to sensitive teeth. It contains a wealth of advice and information about everything to do with sensitive teeth. This includes the causes of sensitive teeth, the treatment for sensitive teeth and what can be done to reduce this risk.

If you often experience a sharp pain in a tooth or teeth after consuming hot/cold foods then you may have sensitive teeth. So this guide is here to help you learn more about this condition and what can be done to treat it.

This guide is arranged as follows:

This is a step by step by approach to the issue of sensitive teeth.

Visit any section in turn to find out more about this common condition.

What is Sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth is the name given to the condition in which someone experiences pain and discomfort in their teeth as a result of consuming hot or cold food and drink. Sweet or highly acidic foods can also cause sensitive teeth.

Most if not all of us have experienced sensitive teeth at some point in our lives. You have probably drunk a hot cup of tea only to find that it has caused a painful twinge in your teeth.

Sensitive teeth are often caused by hot and cold drinks (and foods) but not everyone experienced the same reaction to the same foods. In other words, one person may find that cold foods such as ice cream trigger this reaction whereas another person only experiences pain when they have hot drinks and foods.

That person then avoids those foods which cause this reaction.

But sensitive teeth can be caused by a blast of cold air entering the mouth. As soon as it does it reaches the teeth it causes that all too familiar pain that is associated with sensitive teeth.

How common is sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth are a much more common problem than you think. Many people in the UK suffer from this problem which although is not serious, is something which needs attending to.

The first warning that you may have sensitive teeth is if you experience a sharp pain when you have a hot drink or eat something cold such as an ice cream.

What causes sensitive teeth?

There are several causes of sensitive teeth which include a tendency to grind the teeth (often when asleep), brushing the teeth too hard, broken or cracked teeth and teeth whitening.

These are discussed in more detail in our causes of sensitive teeth section.

Features of sensitive teeth

If you suffer from sensitive teeth then you will experience a pain or twinge which is brief and disappears as quickly. Alternately, you may have pain in your teeth which lasts for several hours.

This pain will vary in its extent and severity. It may be a sharp flash of pain which is painful but not debilitating. But it could also take the form of a throbbing pain which spreads across your jaw.

A word of warning: pain in your teeth and/or jaw can be a sign of an underlying condition such as tooth decay, dental abscess or bruxism (teeth grinding). Visit your dentist to rule out any conditions such as these.

The pain caused by sensitive teeth can affect a single tooth, several teeth or your entire set of teeth.

How do sensitive teeth occur?

This occurs if the gums have receded which then exposes the middle layer of the tooth known as the dentin. This layer sits directly beneath the top layer or enamel and consists of a pale yellow calcified material which contains millions of tiny, fluid filled channels. It encloses the soft inner section of the tooth or pulp.

But conditions such as periodontitis cause the gums to recede which expose the dentin. The dentin contains millions of channels which enable hot or cold fluids to pass through them to the nerves within the tooth which then cause pain.

The dentin can also be exposed as a result of tooth decay. If you have a tooth which has become decayed to the extent that the enamel has worn down then this will be the result. The dentin will be exposed which means that the nerves are also exposed.

Exposed nerves are responsible for the pain of sensitive teeth.