Potential Causes & Remedies for Sensitive Teeth

Do you have sensitive teeth? You're likely wondering why this is happening and looking for some relief. In this post, our Edmonton dentists explain teeth sensitivity, potential dental emergencies that may result and remedies your dental team may recommend.

Why are my teeth sensitive?

People with teeth sensitivity often experience pain or discomfort in their teeth after eating or drinking certain foods and beverages. Another common cause is that a particular food or beverage is too hot or cold and causes unpleasant sensations. 

The discomfort or pain is often sudden and sharp, however temporary. When a tooth's exposed nerve endings are stimulated by hot or cold temperatures, sweet, acidic or hot foods, or even air, tooth pain can occur and leave you wondering, "Why do my teeth hurt when I eat?"

Some people may also experience teeth sensitivity from brushing or flossing their teeth. Fortunately, your Edmonton dentist can treat sensitive teeth and the condition can improve with time. Our dentists may also recommend specific measures to counteract teeth sensitivity. 

Why does it hurt my teeth to drink cold liquid?

Generally, when enamel (the tooth's hard outer layer that protects the crown and covers the softer inner layer of dentin) and cementum (which covers the dentin around the root, the pointy portion of the tooth that extends into the jaw bone) get worn down, the dentin can become exposed. Dentin is connected to the nerve that causes pain in sensitive teeth. Gum normally also protects the root and may recede due to dental issues. 

Dentin can be exposed due to cracked teeth, gum recession and cavities. Within our dentin are thousands of channels or microscopic tubules that lead to the tooth pulp. When these channels are exposed, heat, cold or acidic substances can then get to the nerves inside our teeth, causing pain. The nerves inside our teeth only respond to pain. 

You may notice, or your dentist may tell you about a few of the factors that may be contributing to your sensitive teeth, including:

  • Plaque buildup 
  • Acidic foods 
  • Teeth clenching or grinding, which can wear down enamel
  • Dental procedures such as professional cleanings, whitening treatments crown replacement and root planings. Pain typically disappears in 4-6 weeks
  • Long-term use of mouthwash, which may contain acids that worsen tooth sensitivity. Neutral fluoride mouthwashes may be a better option
  • Cracked teeth, which can become filled with bacteria due to plaque. This can cause tooth pulp to become inflamed and may lead to infection, abscess and dental emergencies
  • Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush, which may wear down enamel, encouraging gum recession or dentin exposure 
  • Gum recession, which exposes dentin and often occurs with gingivitis and other forms of gum disease

Treatment for Sensitive Teeth

If you've been thinking, "All my teeth hurt suddenly. What can I do?", your dentist may have some recommendations and potential remedies to help. While symptoms of teeth sensitivity never completely disappear and no single treatment option will work for everyone, there are some options once your dentist is able to provide you with a proper diagnosis of the problem and the specific triggers that are occurring for you. 

Addressing the reason for any tooth sensitivity is key to alleviating symptoms. Here are some at-home remedies that may help:

Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush & Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

Replacing a strong or hard-bristled toothbrush with a softer one will have your teeth thanking you - and you can still get rid of plaque buildup. Some toothpastes are formulated especially for people with sensitive teeth. Ask your dentist about the best types of toothpaste for sensitive teeth, which can help rebuild enamel to protect dentin. Sensitive toothpaste may also have fewer ingredients that often irritate exposed nerves, such as abrasives and sugar.

Avoid Highly Acidic Foods 

Since highly acidic foods may aggravate or trigger tooth sensitivity, you may save yourself some pain and discomfort by avoiding citrus fruits, high-sugar carbs, sticky candy and soda. 

Avoid Teeth Grinding

Asking your dentist about whether you should wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth may be worth it to help you avoid clenching or grinding, which can wear away at enamel and lead to fractures and other dental emergencies. 

Use a Fluoridated Mouthwash

Adding a neutral fluoridated mouthwash to your daily oral hygiene routine and ceasing use of any mouthwashes containing acids may help tooth sensitivity.   

See a Dentist Regularly 

Attending regular dental appointments can help prevent dental emergencies such as cracked teeth or fillings, which can lead to sensitivity, infection and even the need for extractions

Do you have severely sensitive teeth or pain when you eat? Contact our Edmonton dentists right away. We can make room in our schedule to see you in as soon as possible.

Have a dental emergency in Edmonton? We're here on weekends and after hours to help.

Dental emergencies always happen when you least expect them. Our friendly and experienced dental team is on call to assist you when you need us most.

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