What causes sensitive teeth?

A lot of people have sensitive teeth, and not typically to the same types of foods or drinks. One person may have trouble with piping hot tomato soup (hot) but have no issue with vanilla ice cream (cold). Or, another person my cringe every time they’re exposed to lemon juice but have no issues drinking an iced coffee.

If you’re teeth are really sensitive, lemon-flavored Italian ice must be really painful to eat!

Whatever the type of sensitivity, there tends to be a “root” cause – the root of your tooth, that is.

It’s about the nerves

Our teeth and gums aren’t just for appearance – they cover up the nerves in the root of the tooth that help our teeth to be healthy and strong. If you were to touch that nerve directly, you would have excruciating pain – ask anyone with a crown that’s fallen off, leaving the root of the tooth exposed to open air.

If you have sensitive teeth, it means that something is allowing the liquid or food to reach the nerve.

Pathways in your mouth

One of the easiest ways for hot, sweet, cold or sour food to affect your tooth’s nerve is through a gap in your gum line. If you have gum disease or another type of gum disorder that has caused your gums to pull back from your teeth, that means that the very root of your tooth is now exposed to the outside world.

But another common reason is in your tooth itself. You may have tiny, microscopic pathways in your teeth that allow food particles, or heat or cold, to touch the nerve. These can form if you don’t brush or floss regularly, if you have tooth damage from an injury or if you grind your teeth at night.

What to do about tooth sensitivities

The best thing you can do if you have sensitive teeth is to visit us for an examination. This can help take the guesswork out of what’s causing your teeth to have troubles. Also, there could be something seriously wrong with your teeth or gums – and sensitive teeth are just a symptom or warning sign. Make an appointment at HealthySmile.com or call us at (708) 460-3040 and get the reassurance – and help – that your mouth deserves.

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