What Does Sensitive Teeth Mean?

What Does Sensitive Teeth Mean?

Have you ever experienced a strange stinging sensation in your teeth? Tooth sensitivity may be  isolated in the tooth itself, but may also feel like pain is crawling into the gums.


Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth are quite common. As many as 75% of all adults experience tooth sensitivity at some point in their lives. This is mainly due to the irritation of the tooth pulp. The tooth is made of several tissues and the pulp is the softest one, found in the center of the tooth. It is directly connected to the nerves which are found beneath the gums. The pulp is covered by the dentin, a calcified tissue that lies beneath the tooth enamel.


The enamel serves as the protective layer of the tooth, but over time, cavities (open holes) may develop on the surface, leaving the dentin exposed and food can seep into and come in contact with the tooth pulp. These substances can irritate the tooth pulp and this creates an unpleasant sensation because the pulp is directly connected to the nerve.


Many usual activities can trigger sensitivity in teeth, including:


  • Eating foods or drinking beverages that are hot or cold. These can irritate the tooth pulp because of the sudden change in temperature.
  • Eating sweets. Sugar can trigger sensitivity because it promotes bacterial activity in the teeth. If the sugar gets stuck in the crevices and grooves of your teeth, bacteria will be attracted to those areas and, eventually, eat away the enamel and irritate the tooth pulp.
  • Eating sticky foods. When you eat sticky foods, some gooey residue is left on the surface of the teeth, especially within the tooth grooves. When this happens, the food stuck in the grooves may enter small cavities that are already present in the tooth and this can also irritate the pulp.
  • Biting non-food objects. Non-food objects that are hard, like pens and fingernails, can trigger enamel deterioration. Eventually, the enamel can get weaker and thinner, exposing the dentin.
  • Grinding your teeth. Bruxism or teeth grinding can also wear tooth enamel, particularly on the biting surface of teeth. This can lead to sensitivity whenever you take a bite of something hot or cold.
  • Getting dental treatments. Teeth whitening, restorative dental procedures, and even routine dental cleaning can make your teeth sensitive for a few days because of the drilling, scraping, and scrubbing done on your tooth enamel. However, this should go away within a week. If it continues for more than week, call our office right away to schedule for a follow-up consultation. Dr. Dana Keith will check your teeth to see if anything is amiss and correct it.

Do I Have to be Concerned about Sensitive Teeth?

Sensitivity is not normal, but it can be treated. In many cases, the sensitivity goes away on its own after you have finished eating the food that causes sensitivity or once you have stopped doing whatever triggered it. However, if the sensitivity persists, it may be an indication of a more serious problem. One possible cause of persistent sensitivity is tooth pulp infection which may require root canal treatment or tooth extraction.


If your sensitive teeth are affecting your daily activities, you should seek treatment from Dr. Dana Keith. We at Dana Keith DDS provide complete diagnosis and treatment for tooth sensitivity. Just give us a call at (301) 236-9000 or request for an appointment using our online form. Our dental team is here to fix your tooth sensitivity problems and ensure that you have the highest quality of dental health care.

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