Did you feel a strong, sharp pain after eating ice cream? Well, the sharp pain that you feel when you drink or eat something hot or cold is tooth sensitivity.

This means that you have sensitive teeth which are prone to pain when they come across hotter or colder foods and drinks due to temperature change or any stimuli.

The medical term is dentin hypersensitivity.

This article discusses tooth sensitivity. Learn about its symptoms, causes and treatment in detail below.

woman with tooth sensitivity symptoms

Tooth Sensitivity Symptoms

It is easy to point out when your teeth are extra sensitive.

You feel a bout of pain and discomfort in the roots of your teeth due to certain stimuli, this can especially be hot and cold temperatures.

You may feel this pain in either one or many teeth simultaneously.

It is likely to feel this sharp pain because of triggers and stimuli and not without them.

Hence, when the teeth are exposed to either:

  • hot and cold foods and drinks
  • sweet and acidic foods and drinks
  • tooth brushing and floss
  • cold water in routine teeth cleaning
  • cold air
  • mouth rinses with alcohol

These stimuli create sharp discomfort in your teeth and make it difficult for you to proceed with what you were doing.

However, all tooth sensitivity is easily treatable with good dental hygiene practices and home remedies.

man with pain after drinking coffee

Why Are Your Teeth Sensitive?

One of the reasons why you have extra sensitive can be that your tooth enamel is worn down.

The enamel protects our teeth as it coats the more sensitive dentin.

Hence, if certain factors like continuous acid reflux from the stomach gradually destroy the enamel and making your teeth more prone to sensitivity.

However, your enamel may be worn down because of brushing harshly.

If you have a hard toothbrush rather than a soft bristled toothbrush and you brush very vigorously, then soon enough you will have sensitive teeth.

Brushing hardly from side to side other than at a 45-degree angle will cause harm to your enamel.

Hence, use a soft brush and move it in circular motions.

Don’t be too harsh on your teeth!

Moreover, if you do teeth grinding then you may get sensitive teeth in a few years’ time.

This happens usually because of stress and addressing that can help stop you from grinding your teeth.

Your dentist can also provide a mouthguard to keep your teeth away in order to stop grinding and wearing down the enamel.

Furthermore, acidic foods and beverages like sugar candies, sugar carbs, carbonated drinks erode the enamel slowly.

Hence, it is better to avoid these.

Other Sensitive Teeth Causes

Though, what you consume is not solely responsible for sensitive teeth.

Receding gums can leave certain parts of your teeth exposed which can cause sensitivity.

Moreover, if your dentin exposes as the enamel wears down then there can be extreme tooth sensitivity.

Dental conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease, wearing down of fillings and previous crowns and teeth that are broken will all expose the dentin.

Hence, you will feel sensitivity in the particular teeth whose dentin is exposed.

Furthermore, you are likely to have sensitive teeth after a dental procedure.

Slight discomfort may persist after a teeth whitening treatment or after getting fillings.

However, teeth sensitivity after whitening will mostly not last long and will diminish after a few days.

It may affect the treatment area or all surrounding teeth.

Conditions like bulimia or GERD that bring stomach acids to the mouth and induce vomiting regularly can also weaken the enamel making it more susceptible to sensitivity.

In your routine checkup, your dentist will check for cavities, chipped teeth, broken crowns. loose fillings to find out the cause of your pain.

Once, you know what causes your tooth sensitivity, you can proceed to treat it.

tooth sensitivity treatment man with toothbrush

Tooth Sensitivity Treatments and Remedies

In order to rid yourself of this comfort, you can implement a few oral hygiene practices.

One sensitive teeth remedy is to use good desensitizing toothpaste.

It works by protecting the sensing nerve endings from stimuli and irritants.

Over time your sensitivity reduces because of potassium nitrate that blocks pain signals from reaching the brain from the tooth.

Another important element to control sensitive teeth is to strengthen them with the use of fluoride.

You can apply fluoride to your teeth in a dentist appointment or you can apply it at home using mouth trays with fluoride gel.

However, you can also choose to use fluoride and alcohol-free mouth rinses to give your teeth enamel strength and decrease your pain.

Additionally, look out for hydrogen peroxide and capsaicin rinses that can work as a disinfectant and decrease any inflammation.

You can also use green tea which has antioxidant properties as a mouth wash.

Switch your toothbrush with one with soft bristles and start using it gently to save your enamel.

Other teeth sensitivity home remedies include: using saltwater, honey and water and turmeric.

Saltwater helps decrease inflammation. You can try salt winter rinses twice a day to reduce pain through this antiseptic.

Mix half tablespoon salt with warm water and thoroughly move it around your mouth and gargle with it.

Doing this regularly may show results in a few weeks’ time.

You can also mix honey and warm water to act as an antibacterial agent and promote wound healing.

This will help reduce inflammation as well as heal any wounds or infections.

Turmeric contains curcumin which promotes wound healing and is anti-inflammatory.

Hence, you can apply turmeric paste with salt and mustard oil directly to the affected teeth to reduce pain and increase wound healing.

Vanilla extract is another anti-septic home remedy that you can apply directly to your teeth using a cotton ball as it is pain relieving.

medical treatment -patient on dentists chair with pain

Medical Cure

While home remedies may be effective, they are not the only solution to tooth sensitivity.

Dentists may check for any exposed root.

They will then apply a bonding resin to these root surfaces.

This is a procedure desensitizing and bonding.

The bonding resin will secure the root surface and will stop its exposure.

If your gum receding did not go away because of brushing properly then they may suggest you get a surgical gum graft.

The gum tissue is taken from the palette or some other site in the mouth and the doctor places it on the exposed root surface in the gum line.

This helps to decrease the exposure of the root surface and likewise sentivity.

However, one last extensive procedure to treat tooth sensitivity is the root canal.

After home remedies fail and your pain becomes unbearable then the dentist treats the dental pulp in a root canal treatment.

This treatment option helps to entirely eliminate any pain and sensitivity.

Furthermore, if you have conditions like acid reflux and teeth grinding then you will have to take a few additional measures.

You need a proper checkup and treatment from a physician to cure acid reflux while for teeth grinding, a dentist may recommend wearing a mouthguard to control yourself from grinding unconsciously at night.

You may also want to decrease your intake of caffeine and manage the stress levels that lead you to unconsciously grinding your teeth at night.

family brushing together

Prevention and Outlook

Practicing good oral hygiene is the way to protect your teeth from any damage.

Sensitivity may be a minor issue but if your bad eating habits and oral health do not change then this sensitivity may turn into cavities and decay any day.

You should hope to establish good oral habits regularly and reinforce them too.

These include:

  • Brushing with a soft toothbrush to prevent tooth enamel from wearing down from abrasiveness
  • Brushing in gentle circular motions rather than harshly left to right
  • Avoiding acidic, sugary foods and drinks that erode the enamel and expose the dentin or using a straw to limit contact with teeth when drinking acidic drinks
  • Visiting the dentist regularly for routine cleanings
  • Flossing, using mouth rinses and washes to keep your oral hygiene on top
  • Using a mouth guard for teeth grinding

People avoid going to the dentist for tooth sensitivity however it is as much a dental problem as others.

You may try remedies to cure your tooth pain and heal it temporarily but you will have to change your oral habits and lifestyle to get rid of it permanently.

This sharp pain in the mouth causes huge discomfort and affects your quality of life.

Hence, it is not ideal to deal with it with no care.

It may also be indicating a cavity or root damage instead of simply wearing down the enamel.

Then your symptoms may slightly differ and you may also notice staining on teeth, very strong pain without any stimuli or trigger as well as pain while eating, chewing and biting food.

Therefore, if you persistently see these symptoms you need a dental checkup as soon as possible.

If you keep up with your regular dental checkups then you may not face these difficulties anyway.

However, even if you don’t, taking good care of your hygiene while doing the routine brushing, flossing and rinsing can make a huge difference.

Therefore, tooth sensitivity is much more preventable than it is curable with just a few precautions.