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Tooth Sensitivity – Reasons, Symptoms, Solutions

Excerpt: There are a few different causes for tooth sensitivity, If you ever drank hot coffee or bit into an ice cream cone...
Table of Contents

Tooth Sensitivity - What Is It?

Tooth Sensitivity (dentin hypersensitivity), is a condition where your teeth are more likely to be impacted by hotter or colder temperatures. Tooth sensitivity may be hard to diagnose what caused it with out trial and error, it can affect one tooth, some teeth, or all of your teeth. Sensitive teeth might not even be a permanent problem and it could just go away on it's own, but chance are you will need to make some change for this to happen.

There are a few different causes for tooth sensitivity, If you ever drank hot coffee or bit into an ice cream cone you’ve likely experienced at least some tooth sensitivity. It may not be a cause for concern, but there is potential that it could be an indication of something more sinister.

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Sensitive teeth – Causes

As mentioned, often there is more than one cause that may or may not be more than one cause. You could also feel this pain and discomfort in your teeth, or at their base, near the roots of your teeth, here are a few common causes of tooth sensitivity:


  • Hot or cold food & beverages
  • Sweet or acidic foods & beverages
  • Brushing or flossing (too vigorously)
  • Alcohol-based mouthwashes
  • Cold air or water
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
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Sensitive Teeth – reasons

One of the most common reasons for sensitive teeth is how thin or thick your tooth enamel is. Thicker tooth enamel means more protection and less sensitivity, a thinner enamel may be a genetic factor so your teeth might be naturally more sensitive. You can wear your tooth enamel away with bad habits, so if that’s the case you might be able to reverse the effect, here are some of the reasons your enamel could be thinning out.


  • Brushing your teeth too hard
  • Using a hard toothbrush
  • Grinding your teeth at night regularly
  • Eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages
  • Acid reflux
  • Gum recession
  • Tooth decay
  • Fractured teeth
  • Worn down fillings or crowns
  • Recently bleached teeth (for whitening) 

How is tooth sensitivity diagnosed?

If you are experiencing sensitivity for the first time, it could be for any of the reasons listed above. If it’s a sudden onset of sensitivity it’s probably more likely to be decay to the tooth itself. It’s better not to assume you know the reason when there are sudden changes to your health, especially ones that cause pain or discomfort.
If you schedule your appointment and your dentist finds a cavity in the area of discomfort that’s probably the reason why. However, if there are no visible signs of damage, then the diagnoses will be harder for your dentist. 
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What can I do about tooth sensitivity?

For mild tooth sensitivity you can generally solve the issue with store bought products, like sensitive toothpaste or mouthwash. You can try brushing and flossing more often, if your only brushing once day try twice a day. You can also try to pay attention to how tight your clenching your jaw, grinding teeth (bruxism) will hurt your teeth over time.

Dentists generally recommend all the procedures above for healthy teeth so don’t feel afraid to try more than one remedy at once!


Healthy teeth won’t normally be sensitive, so try the following to have better oral care:

  • Less/no teeth grinding
  • Better oral regiment
  • Less acidic or sugary foods

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What are the complications of tooth sensitivity?

There are lots of minor complications that come from tooth sensitivity:


  • Discomfort in colder environments (especially when it’s windy)
  • Potentially discomfort when sleeping 
  • Undiagnosed tooth decay
  • Undiagnosed tooth fractures
  • Thing enamel from your genetics
  • Major or minor difficulty eating
These may not sound to bad compared to other oral problems, but consistent oral pain or discomfort will be enough to wear anyone down. The sensitivity may even prevent you from joining in on important social activities. If the party your at has ice cream cake, or it’s winter and you’re offered some hot chocolate, the pain could be to much for you to handle.
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The bottom line

Tooth sensitivity shouldn’t be ignored unless it’s very minor and temporary. If your teeth are any more sensitivity than that, it’s better to get it checked out.

Frequently asked questions

No, there are a number of contributing to tooth sensitivity, discuss it with your dentist before freaking out!

It is generally just pain that occurs in specific circumstances. It might not even feel like pain, it could just be discomfort so you might not notice.

There are off-the-shelf and over-the-counter products for tooth sensitivity, but if it’s severe then you should definitely talk to your dentist first

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