Having sensitive teeth is the most common pain condition of the facial area. The stinging sensation in a tooth is caused by the movement of fluid in the dentinal tubules of the tooth. Dentinal tubules are tiny fluid-filled channels connected to the innervation of the dental pulp. The tubules are located in the dentine under the tooth enamel.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Normally, a healthy gum protects the dentine of the neck of the tooth and root. However, the tubules can be exposed due to a variety of reasons, exposing the tooth to sensitivity. In this case, the feeling of sensitivity can be caused by hot, cold, sweet, sour and touch.

Excessive force in brushing one’s teeth is the most common cause of sensitive teeth; it makes the gums recede. A receded gum does not cover the neck of the tooth, which can then become sensitive to cold, for instance. Microscopic cracks in the teeth are also common causes of sensitive teeth. Erosion, i.e. dissolution of the surface of the tooth due to e.g. gastric acid or acidic soft drinks may expose the dentinal tubules. In addition, wearing due to grinding one’s teeth may predispose to sensitive teeth.

Sensitive teeth are a common symptom of cavities in the teeth. Also, an early inflammation of the pulp may cause sensitive teeth. A loose or chipped filling may also be the cause of sensitive teeth. A recently filled tooth is often sensitive at first. However, if you have sensitive teeth for longer than a few weeks, you should see your dentist. It is always a good idea to find out the cause of sensitive teeth.

How can I prevent sensitive teeth?

Proper home care is the most important thing in preventing sensitive teeth. The teeth should be brushed with a small, soft brush using back-and-forth strokes. Excessive force should be avoided in order to prevent the gums from receding. An electric toothbrush is a very handy aid in thoroughly and gently cleaning one’s teeth.

Teeth should not be brushed immediately after a meal, because of an acid attack that softens the dental enamel occurring immediately after eating. Soft enamel is more readily damaged when brushing.

It is also a good idea to pay attention to one’s diet. All acidic foods and drinks corrode the surface of the teeth and make it sensitive, thereby predisposing to sensitive teeth. Juice, soft drinks and sports drinks are harmful to teeth and should only be had in limited quantities with meals.

Treatment for sensitive teeth

The treatment is largely subject to the same things as preventing sensitive teeth. In addition, toothpastes meant to ease sensitive teeth cover dentinal tubules that are already exposed. In more severe cases, sensitive necks of teeth can be covered also by a dentist.