Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?
Sensitive teeth occur when the underlying layer of your teeth -- the dentin -- becomes exposed. The roots, which are not covered by hard enamel, contain thousands of tiny tubules leading to the tooth's nerve center (the pulp). These dentinal tubules (or channels) allow the stimuli -- for example, the hot, cold, or sweet food -- to reach the nerve in your tooth, which results in the pain you feel.
There are many factors that may lead to sensitive teeth, including:
Brushing too hard. Over time, brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down enamel and cause the dentin (the underlying layer of your teeth) to be exposed. It can also cause recession of the gums (the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth).
Tooth decay and recession of the gums. As gums move away from a tooth due to conditions such as gum disease, the root surface becomes exposed. The part of the tooth by the gum line that then becomes exposed is less calcified than the rest of the tooth and is more susceptible to decay.
Gum disease (gingivitis). Inflamed and sore gum tissue may cause sensitivity due to the loss of supporting ligaments, which exposes the root surface that leads directly to the nerve of the tooth.
Cracked teeth. Chipped or broken teeth may fill with bacteria from plaque causing Inflammation.
Teeth grinding. Grinding or clenching your teeth may wear down the enamel and expose underlying dentin. It can also cause breakdown on the side of the tooth due to the force of grinding – exposing inner layers of the tooth that are naturally more sensitive.
Plaque build-up. The presence of plaque on the root surfaces can cause sensitivity.
Acidic foods. Regular consumption of foods with a high acid content, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and tea, can cause enamel erosion.