What causes sensitive teeth?
sensitive teeth

Countless people across the world are living with sensitive teeth. Whether it’s holding you back from enjoying that ice-cream or forcing you to drink your tea lukewarm, dental sensitivity can get in the way of your lifestyle. Even a breath of chilly winter air can cause sharp pains to shoot through your teeth – so why do some people get sensitive teeth? 

Teeth grinding

Grinding your teeth, or bruxism, can cause sensitive teeth – and some people may not even know that they’re doing it. 80% of bruxism occurs while people are asleep, and it is far less common to grind or clench your teeth while you’re awake. This constant wearing of the teeth can cause loss of tooth enamel, which results in exposed nerve endings and sensitive teeth.


It is more common for people to experience sensitive teeth as they age, usually related to lifestyle choices and general wear-and-tear of the teeth. However, there are still people across all ages groups who are affected by sensitive teeth.

Vigorous toothbrushing 

Sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing. If you use too much force, or if your toothbrush has bristles that are too hard, the protective enamel layer on your teeth can actually be worn down. Aggressive brushing can also lead to gum recession. This eventually results in exposed dentin and greater exposure of your nerves to changes in temperature and pressure.

Some toothpastes 

Many tooth whiteners, whitening toothpastes and some mouthwashes have peroxide-based bleaching solutions, acids, alcohol and other chemicals that remove stains. These stain-removing chemicals also remove the enamel on your teeth. Not only does this expose your dentin layer and nerves, it also exacerbates pre-existing tooth sensitivity. When in doubt about the kind of toothpaste and mouthwash you should use, always check with your dentist!

Tooth decy 

If we don’t floss and brush regularly, plaque can build up and result in tooth decay which can cause deterioration of the tooth. This process can initially present as tooth sensitivity but can progress to a more severe and painful toothache. Fortunately, regular dental hygiene and dental visits can manage this.

Acidic foods 

Acidic foods and beverages, such as lemons, pickles, tomato sauce, sports drinks, and carbonated drinks just to name a few, can all wear down enamel leaving exposed nerve endings and causing sensitive teeth.

Gum disease 

Gum disease may lead to the gum layer receding away from the teeth, resulting in increased exposure of the sensitive roots. 

These roots carry temperature and pressure changes to the nerve centre. It will come as no surprise then that people suffering from gum inflammation and disease thus face increased tooth sensitivity. Receding gums need professional dental care so speak with your dentist and don’t skip your regular check-ups!

Cracked, chipped and broken teeth

Cracked or broken teeth mean that the nerve centre is more exposed, resulting in pain with temperature changes and when you chew. These cracks, if left untreated, become filled with bacteria from plaque and cause inflammation in the nerve centre. Overall, cavities, cracks and worn down fillings in teeth all contribute to sensitive teeth.

Decayed fillings

As time passes, dental fillings may weaken around the edges, or begin to fracture. In these small cracks, harmful bacteria can begin to collect and begin to break down the enamel. Visit your dentist to treat this problem – usually your dentist can easily replace your filling and solve your tooth sensitivity.

Recent procedure

Teeth can become sensitive after a trip to the dentists, and it is quite common. Listen to your dentist’s advice for your personal dental follow-up care for extra safety, and if sensitivity continues for an extensive period, it is important to book another dental appointment to ensure that there are no major issues.

If you’re concerned about your sensitive teeth, it’s always best to consult a professional and our team of dentists always ensure your comfort and safety. 

If you’d like to find out more about our treatments or speak to someone about any tooth sensitivity or pain you may be experiencing, email or call our friendly reception staff to book an appointment.

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