Why are My Teeth Sensitive?

Teeth can be sensitive to cold, hot, sugar, touch, and biting hard foods.

Cold sensitivity -is a sign that a tooth is “alive”, meaning the nerve hasn’t died. There may be a cavity, a crack in the tooth, or it may just be sensitive around the gumline due to gum recession. This is a common occurrence, because most people are keeping their teeth as they age, and as they get “long in the tooth”. This phrase actually refers to teeth looking longer on older people due to recession of the gums from gum disease or heavy toothbrushing. As a result of the gum recession the root of the tooth, which has microscopic nerve endings, is uncovered. Grinding and clenching can also cause tooth sensitivity. If you have cold sensitivity, a dental examination should be done to determine the cause and the treatment options.

Sweet sensitivity – usually means that there is decay in the tooth, but can also be from exposed roots. Again, a dental exam is in order.

Heat sensitivity – is not a problem if it is momentary, especially if you switch from cold food or liquid to hot. Prolonged, throbbing pain with hot food or drink can indicate that a tooth is dying. The dead pulp tissue inside the tooth will form gases that expand with heat, causing significant pain. Don’t delay getting to the dentist if you have this symptom.

Biting pain – can be from a cracked tooth, especially if it occurs when you are chewing hard foods and is momentary. Another cause of pain with biting can be tooth grinding. Tooth grinding or clenching causes the nerve or “ pulp” of the tooth to be irritated, so bite pressure and also cold can cause pain. If your teeth are more sensitive when you wake up in the morning, especially if they are sore on both sides of your mouth, you may be grinding/clenching during the night and should consider a bite guard.