What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Why Do We Suffer from Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is a common complaint from many dental patients at Bertagnolli Dental. If you have ever experienced a sharp pain or discomfort upon taking a bite of ice-cream, very sweet foods, or acidic foods, you are not alone. Around one in four adults suffer from some degree of tooth sensitivity. So, why do we suffer from tooth sensitivity?


When your nerve endings are exposed, stimulation from high or low temperatures, sugar, and acid can turn eating into an uncomfortable process. Although some people are more prone to suffering from tooth sensitivity than others, there are some easy steps you can take to minimize the discomfort.

Before you combat tooth sensitivity, it is important to understand the causes. Our teeth are made up of different layers. On the very outer surface, there is a layer of enamel. This is the very hard mineral layer visible on the outside of your teeth.


Underneath the enamel, there is a layer of dentin which supports the enamel and surrounds the tooth pulp, where the nerves and blood vessels are located. If your tooth has a very thin layer of enamel, acid, sugar and hot or cold temperatures can stimulate the nerves easily and cause an uncomfortable sensation.


The thickness of the enamel layer can vary between different teeth and between people. Usually, the layer of enamel forms a substantial barrier between the contents of your mouth and the sensitive nerves within your teeth. If you naturally have a very thin layer of enamel on some surfaces of your teeth, you may be prone to tooth sensitivity.


Most people suffering from tooth sensitivity will develop it over time, and it is generally due to one or a few of the following causes.


Grinding your teeth will physically wear away at the enamel and can produce areas with high sensitivity. Often, tooth grinding occurs while sleeping but it can also develop as a reaction to stress. If you suspect that you may be grinding your teeth at night, ask your dentist about a mouth guard. It will prevent doing more damage to your teeth.


Acidic food and drinks cause demineralization of the enamel layer. Frequently exposing your teeth to acidic substances will chemically erode the enamel and can cause sensitivity. People who suffer from acid reflux at night can also inadvertently create an acidic environment in their mouth.


If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, try to minimize your acid exposure. If you are consuming acidic foods and beverages, it is better to consume everything within a shorter space of time, rather than to snack or sipping continuously throughout the day.


Your brushing habits and the type of toothbrush you use could be contributing to tooth sensitivity. Hard bristles and aggressive brushing can wear down the enamel layer by abrasion. Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush and take your time when brushing, ensuring you clean all surfaces gently and thoroughly. Avoid toothpaste and mouthwash with a high chemical content that can damage the enamel of sensitive teeth.



Following these tips regarding why do we suffer from tooth sensitivity should minimize your pain and discomfort for the short and long run. If in doubt, always contact your dentist or Bertagnolli Dental for a professional check-up, so we can help determine the reasons behind your particular tooth sensitivity.

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