What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Dentin hypersensitivity, or tooth sensitivity, is a common dental problem. It’s a condition that can develop over time, as a result of common problems such as receding gums and enamel wear. Most sufferers are between 20 and 50 years old. Tooth sensitivity can start to happen when the softer, inner part of the tooth called ‘dentin’ becomes exposed. Dentin lies under the enamel and the gums.
Thousands of microscopic channels run through the dentin towards the center of the tooth. Once the dentin is exposed, external triggers (such as a cold drink) can stimulate the nerves inside the tooth, resulting in the characteristic short, sharp pain of tooth sensitivity.
Only a dentist can confirm you have dentin hypersensitivity. If you are experiencing any dental problems, always consult your dentist for advice. If you have dentin hypersensitivity, you can help to minimize further exposure of the dentin, care for your sensitive teeth and relieve the painful symptoms by making some simple changes to your daily oral care routine and dietary habits.
In this section we look at some of the main causes of sensitivity.
- e.g. from teeth grinding or overly frequent tooth brushing
- e.g. from gum disease or aggressive brushing
The sensitivity which can be experienced during and after professional tooth whitening (bleaching) treatments is different from dentin hypersensitivity. See Do tooth whitening treatments cause sensitivity? for more information.