Why Do I Have Tooth Sensitivity?

Cynthia Hoy

Experiencing tooth pain while eating hot or cold food is known as “dentin hypersensitivity” or tooth sensitivity. It is quite common for some adults to experience tooth sensitivity. About half the population has experienced tooth sensitivity at some point. This may be for short or long periods of time and may apply to a single tooth or multiple teeth or areas of the mouth. 

Symptoms of Tooth Sensitivity

Individuals that have tooth sensitivity will feel pain or discomfort in certain situations:

  • Eating or drinking hot foods and beverages
  • Eating or drinking cold foods and beverages
  • Eating or drinking sweet foods and beverages
  • Eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages
  • Brushing or flossing the teeth
  • Avoiding certain foods that may cause pain or discomfort such as ice cream
  • Breathing in cold air

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is caused by having a thin enamel. The enamel is the outer layer that protects the tooth. This may be natural to an individual’s teeth or there are some circumstances that can cause the enamel to wear away:

  • Using a hard bristle toothbrush. For most people, Dr. Beeram recommends using a soft bristle toothbrush. 
  • Brushing teeth too hard.
  • Grinding teeth at night.
  • Regularly consuming acidic foods or drinks. 
  • Receding gums.

Other Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

A cracked tooth or filling that goes all the way to the root can be a source of teeth sensitivity. You may experience some pain with cold. Depending on how far down the crack goes will determine how Dr. Beeram will be able to repair it. It will either be filled in or the tooth may need to be pulled.

Gum disease can also lead to teeth sensitivity. Plaque or tartar buildup can cause the gum tissue to pull away and this may lead to some pain or discomfort. Gum disease should be treated by a dentist near you as soon as possible as it can lead to irreversible problems.

Individuals over the age of 40 may experience gum recession – gums that naturally pull away from the teeth. The exposed roots don’t have enamel to protect them so this may lead to discomfort and teeth sensitivity. 

Other health conditions can also lead to tooth sensitivity. Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) is a condition that causes acid to come up from the stomach and esophagus. The acid can wear away tooth enamel over time. Conditions that cause frequent vomiting, such as Bulimia, can also wear away teeth enamel. 

Sensitivity may be felt temporarily after some treatments such as teeth whitening


Depending on the cause and the severity, your local dentist will discuss with you what oral health steps to take. Some of the treatments Dr. Beeram might use are:

  • Toothpaste for sensitive teeth
  • Desensitizing toothpaste
  • Fluoride Gel
  • Fillings to cover exposed roots
  • Sealants
  • Mouthguard or nightguard to protect your teeth if you grind or clench your teeth
  • Root canal

What You Can Do

Take care of your teeth enamel and follow these steps so that it doesn’t wear away further:

  • Use a soft toothbrush and don’t brush too hard. 
  • Practice good oral hygiene.
  • Avoid acidic food and drink like soda and sticky candy. If you do eat something acidic, wait an hour or so before brushing your teeth. 
  • Pay attention to grinding or clenching your teeth. If you notice this happening, talk to Dr. Beeram about a teeth guard

When to See a Dentist

If you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort in your teeth or mouth, it’s a good idea to talk to a dentist near you to find out what the problem is. For a bit of fun, you can take this quiz from Sensodyne to see if you have sensitive teeth, but it is not a substitute for seeing a local dentist. Contact Beach Grove Dental Tsawwassen to book an appointment to see Dr. Beeram to discuss your tooth sensitivity or dental care

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash