Tooth sensitivity is among the common causes of a toothache. The phrase “tooth sensitivity” refers to tooth discomfort or feelings of toothache in one or more teeth. The pain of tooth sensitivity is usually sharp, sudden and shooting. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the layer of a tooth underneath the enamel (called the dentin) or the layer covering the root (called cementum) is exposed along the gum line due to receding gums. The exposed areas respond to hot and cold, and sometimes to sweet and spicy foods, and trigger pain.
The causes of tooth sensitivity vary, and if you have sensitive teeth, it may be due to several of these factors:
- Overzealous brushing. You can have too much of a good thing. Brushing your teeth with too much force, or with a hard-bristle toothbrush, may wear down tooth enamel, expose the cementum or dentin and cause tooth sensitivity.
- Gum disease. Inflamed gum tissue pulls away from the tooth, leaving vulnerable areas exposed.
- Tooth grinding. Grinding your teeth can cause the enamel to wear away and leave the dentin exposed.
If you have sensitive teeth, don’t neglect your daily oral care routine. Just be sure to use a soft toothbrush and soft floss. You can also try a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Several brands are available, and you should notice some improvement with regular use of any of them. Also, try spreading some sensitizing toothpaste along the exposed cementum or dentin area before bed to help reduce sensitivity. Just use your fingertip or a cotton swab to rub the toothpaste directly onto the exposed spot.