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Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?

DO YOU EVER cringe when you watch someone bite into ice cream, or grimmace when you drink sweet tea on a summer day? Are you sometimes fearful of that first sip of hot soup or drink of tea? You’re not alone. Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints we hear about!

Teeth Feel Sensitive When Nerves Are Exposed 

On the outside of each tooth is a protective layer of enamel. Over time, the enamel can wear away leaving an inner layer, called the dentin, exposed. This occurs due to normal wear and tear, poor dental hygiene or certain lifestyle choices.

Dentin contains fluid-filled tubules that reach into the innermost part of the tooth where all the nerves reside. Because the nerves inside the tooth are exposed when the enamel is eroded away, sensitivity is the result. The dentinal tubules microscopically look like a handful of straws. Each “straw or tubule contains fluid that transfers feeling. When these are open and not capped with calcium or fluoride sensitivity results. 

Another form of tooth sensitivity develops when gum recession leaves the root of the tooth exposed to food, drink and air.

Common causes of Tooth Sensitivity


We have several things that we can paint on the teeth to make them less sensitive.  They take very little time but work like magic. The results are immediate and can last forever on some people. Others need to be treated every 6 months or so.  We can also put you on prescription fluoride toothpaste that works wonders and when you feel sensitivity creeping up you can start using it again. This will stop tooth sensitivity in it’s tracks. Fluoride varnish works great on exposed root surfaces as well.

There is no reason to have to live with sensitive teeth! Let us know we can help!

Desensitizing Toothpaste do work with mild cases

Desensitizing toothpastes are a great way to ease tooth sensitivity. Many of our patients ask us how these toothpastes actually work! It’s simple: they are specially formulated to either block the tubules in the dentin, protecting the nerves in the tooth from exposure.

It’s important to remember, however, that if your teeth are at all sensitive, your first stop should be your dentist’s office. Some problems that cause teeth to be sensitive can be quite serious and may require more extensive treatment than desensitizing toothpaste can provide.

Follow These Helpful Tips To Avoid Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth can range from mildly annoying to severely painful. To prevent further damage to your teeth, or any sensitivity in the first place, follow the suggestions below:

  • Practice proper oral hygiene. Gum disease and tooth decay are frequently the cause of tooth sensitivity. In addition, avoid smoking or any form of tobacco use.
  • Don’t brush so hard. Aggressive brushing or brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush can cause gum recession and enamel erosion. Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and don’t apply too much force. Plaque comes off easier than you think!
  • Don’t eat sour candy. Sour candy has a low Ph which means it is acidic. It can be as acidic as battery acid. Which etches your teeth and opens up those dentinal tubules we keep talking about making your teeth sensitive.
  • Protect your teeth. If you clench your teeth frequently or have been diagnosed with bruxism (teeth grinding), make sure you protect your teeth with a nightguard provided to you by your dentist and try to be conscious of your clenching habits during the day.
  • Make sure your diet is healthy. Eat sugar and carbohydrates in moderation. Drink plenty of water and eat foods that are good for your teeth such as dairy products and vegetables.
  • Dental decay is bad. Of course we all know dental decay is bad but often times it can be a cavity that is making a tooth sensitive. Keep your teeth up! See the dentists here at McOmie Family Dentistry every six months. This way we can ensure your teeth are happy and healthy.
  • Never Ever, Ever Never suck on Lemons or Limes.  This can erode not only dentin but the harder substance enamel. Once this is gone it is gone forever you can’t regrow it. Teeth are tough but you can do things that will weaken them. This is a fast way to get sensitive teeth.

Nobody Should Live With Tooth Sensitivity

No matter what your level of discomfort, here at McOmie Family Dentistry it’s our belief that nobody should have to live with tooth pain. If you experience any kind of sensitivity in your teeth, come in and see us! We can diagnose the root cause of your sensitivity and ascertain the best way to treat it. Why have discomfort when you don’t have to? Tooth pain is not normal.

Don’t Confuse Tooth Pain With Sensitivity

If you have tooth pain that comes on for no reason, or pain that wakes you at night. This is not just sensitivity. If you have pain from cold or hot foods, that lingers for hours. If you have pain that comes on and you need to take medication to rid yourself of that pain. These are not just sensitivity and you should call McOmie Family Dentistry immediately. This type of problem only gets worse with time and you suffer longer then you really need to if you are delaying seeing us thinking it is going to get better. A simple root canal can fix this problem most of the time and can be done in less than an hour. But that is a topic for a different blog post.

We are thankful for our wonderful patients! Give us a call to talk about sensitive teeth  McOmie Family Dentistry 423-899-1112

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