Cause of sensitive teeth

Sensitive teeth are mainly caused by exposed dentine. If enamel of tooth crown, or gum and cementum on root surface has been worn or lost, then it will lose its protective function and the dentine will be exposed. The dentine has many fine dentinal tubules connecting to the pulp. When it is stimulated by eating or drinking hot, cold, sour, or sweet food and beverages, or when it is contacted by a toothbrush or dental floss, sharp pain will be felt.

Photograph of the longitudinal section of a tooth with exposed dentine.
Causes of exposed dentine
  • Use of a toothbrush with bristles that are too hard, or brushing with excessive force
  • Frequent consumption of highly acidic food or beverages
  • Habitual grinding of teeth (bruxism)
    Animation showing habitual grinding of teeth.
  • Gum Disease or aging leading to gum recession
    Photograph of a set of permanent teeth with gum recession and exposed root surfaces.
  • The cementum covering the root is removed after receiving treatment of root planing
Management
  • According to the oral condition, dentist may apply topical fluoride varnish or perform filling on the affected tooth surface.
    Photograph of one of the lower back teeth  having its chewing surface applied with topical flurode.
  • The dentist may construct a “mouth guard” to prevent further wear off of teeth from habitual grinding.
    Photograph of a partially translucent mouth guard.
  • Use of desensitizing toothpaste to relieve tooth sensitivity. You should consult your dentist before purchasing or using this type of toothpaste.
Prevention
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Brush with a gentle force
  • Avoid frequent intake of highly acidic food or beverages
    Intake of fruit juice, sports drink, soft drink, yogurt, red wine, white wine, etc., should be reduced to avoid acidic attack.
  • Avoid biting on hard food
    Bone, nut or shell should be avoided to prevent enamel from fracturing.
  • Sufficient sleep and exercise
    It helps to relieve stress and avoid bruxism (teeth grinding).