What Causes Tooth Sensitivity & How to Fix It

Do you bite into a cold scoop of ice cream or sip a warm cup of coffee just to have a painful shock shoot through your teeth and gums? Sensitive teeth are not a fun thing to deal with. This sharp pain can arise while consuming cold or hot food, or while brushing your teeth. It can be painful and frustrating. 


What causes this tooth sensitivity and what can be done to fix it? 


There’s a material inside your tooth called “dentin,” which contains a ton of microscopic nerve endings. To protect all of these nerves, there’s a strong, outer material called tooth enamel. This tooth enamel is tough but can be broken down over time through the grinding of our teeth or acidic foods and drinks (like energy drinks, citrus, or alcohol). When this protective layer disappears, the sensitive dentin is exposed to everything from coffee and ice cream to air and water.  


According to the Mayo Clinic, these sensations don’t always mean your enamel is gone and dentin is exposed. You can experience this discomfort from “a cavity, a cracked or chipped tooth, a worn filling, or gum disease.” But the sensitivity is typically from “worn down tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots.”


This is why the first thing to do is to visit your dentist. Identifying the root cause of the pain will help come with a plan to resolve it. 


So what should you do if you’re one of the 40 million Americans (Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) dealing with sensitive teeth?


First and foremost, good oral habits will help prevent or slow tooth sensitivity. Taking consistent actions like brushing and flossing (preferably with a gentle stroke versus a vigorous motion) will help. 


In addition to that, here are some other options that can help ease your pain:


  • Desensitizing Toothpaste: Using desensitizing toothpaste can help. Ingredients such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride are known to shield the tiny nerves in dentin from pain signals.
  • Fluoride: Fluoride can help strengthen tooth enamel, which can help with pain
  • Avoid Acidic Foods: foods like soda and other soft drinks, coffee, and citrus are known to break down the enamel coat protecting your teeth. Avoid these sorts of foods at all costs. 
  • Soft-bristled toothbrushes, gentle scrubbing, and fluoride-based rinses can help ease the pain and tooth sensitivities


Tooth pain can be some of the most irritating we can experience. It becomes the only thing we can think about. We become fearful every time we eat or drink that we’re going to experience a painful shock. It’s no way to live. 


Schedule an appointment with us a Greenspoint today, and let us help you heal your teeth, and enjoy your life.