Here's Why Your Teeth Are Sensitive (And What To Do About It)

Nothing ruins that first delicious bite of an ice cream sundae like shocking pain shooting up through your tooth. If you have sensitive teeth, this might unfortunately be a familiar experience for you. So why is it that your friends can happily sip on an icy beverage, enjoy an ice cream cone, or chomp on something super sweet without issue, while contact with something really cold, really hot, or really sweet causes you such pain? While sudden tooth pain or sensitivity can be a sign of a cavity or other acute dental problem that need immediate attention, chronic tooth sensitivity can be caused by other less severe issues. 

The most common symptoms of tooth sensitivity are pain when coming in contact with the following things: cold food or cold air, sweet food or drink, hot food or drink, acidic food or drink, alcohol-based mouth wash, or when brushing and flossing (via Healthline). Sensitivity can come and go with no discernable cause, but it is often caused by nighttime tooth grinding, brushing your teeth too hard, high consumption of acidic beverages, gum recession using too hard a toothbrush, or damage to the teeth like chipping or cavities. Teeth can also be temporarily sensitive after dental procedures like fillings or teeth bleaching.         

How to decrease tooth sensitivity

If the cause of your tooth sensitivity is something like gum recession, a cavity, or nighttime tooth grinding, your dentist can help address these issues with a filling, gum graft surgery, or a mouth guard so you can heal. If the issue is due to over-consumption of certain foods or drinks, an adjustment in diet might help. But if your sensitivity doesn't have such an easily-discernible or easily-fixable cause, there are other things you can do to help decrease the pain you experience so you can better enjoy your favorite foods and drinks. 

Toothpaste made to desensitize your teeth while also strengthening enamel is a good choice for occasional sensitivity, and after using it for several days, you should notice a reduction in the pain you're experiencing (via Mayo Clinic). Dentists may also choose to do a fluoride treatment on the teeth that are causing the problem, to help strengthen the enamel on those teeth. Bonding, sometimes called desensitizing, can also be done at your dentist's office, and involves placing a bonding resin near the root of your tooth to create a protective barrier between your nerve and the pain trigger. The bottom line here, is if you are experiencing sensitivity that is new or severe, you should talk to your dentist, and if it is something that just comes and goes, there are still things you can do! Don't suffer in silence when our mouths are so essential to everything from laughing to enjoying that ice cream sundae.