Dental Advise |3 min read

Tooth Sensitivity Causes and Treatments

We’ve all experienced it at one point or another—that twinge of pain that makes you wince and avoid anything that could aggravate it. Tooth sensitivity is more common than you think. According to WebMD, 1 in 8 Americans experiences tooth sensitivity in their life. So, what causes this persistent irritation and how do you fix it? Read on to find out how you can nip sensitivity in the bud and prevent it from being a continuous pain in the tooth.

Brushing Too Hard

If you’re brushing a little too enthusiastically, you may experience frequent tooth sensitivity. If you’re brushing with too much force or with a toothbrush that isn’t a soft-bristled brush, you can slowly wear down the layers on your teeth that protect the nerves. When these layers are brushed away, the nerves that are exposed ache when they come in contact with extreme temperatures or very acidic foods. The remedy is incredibly simple for this one—buy a softer-bristle toothbrush and remember to brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle in short, tooth-wide strokes.

Acidic Foods

While acidic foods on occasion aren’t anything to worry about, constantly eating foods that are high in acidity can wreak havoc on tooth enamel. Acidic foods expose the nerves on your teeth and cause the twinge in pain that you experience with tooth sensitivity. Foods like tomato sauces, citrus, kiwis, coffee and pickles are some of the foods with the highest content of acids. Limit these foods and brush your teeth after.

Teeth Grinding

Relax and destress! Grinding your teeth or keeping your jaw severely clenched can cause tooth sensitivity. While we know that tooth enamel is an incredibly strong substance, grinding and clenching can eventually wear down the enamel on your teeth. And when the enamel wears down, nerves in the teeth become exposed causing painful tooth sensitivity. An easy fix is to talk to your dentist about finding a custom-fitted mouth guard that can prevent the grinding, or practice de-stressing activities, like exercise, deep breathing and meditation.

Tooth Whitening

When you use tooth-whitening systems at home or tooth-whitening toothpaste, you run the risk of causing tooth sensitivity. Chemicals that companies add to their toothpaste and whitening formulas can be harsh and cause tooth sensitivity. Tooth whitening is best done in the dentist’s office, so talk to your dentist about safe ways to whiten or schedule an appointment to have your dentist professionally whiten your teeth with safe, gentle ingredients.


You’re Mouthwash-Obsessed

Similar to whitening toothpaste, mouthwashes that contain alcohol, which is acidic, among other chemicals, can make your teeth extra-sensitive if your dentin, or enamel, is already worn down. Rather than using these kinds of mouthwashes, try a fluoride rinse or mouthwash that is alcohol-free. However, if your teeth are extra-sensitive, be sure to see the dentist and talk about alternatives to mouthwash in general.

Gum Disease

If you know you have gum disease, or you have receding gums, you may experience frequent and persistent tooth sensitivity. Problems with your gums, like gingivitis and gum recession, can directly expose tooth roots to elements that they normally shouldn’t or wouldn’t encounter, when covered completely by the gums. To get a handle on your gums, make sure you schedule an appointment with your dentist and learn about treatments they can offer to lessen tooth sensitivity due to your gum condition.

Too Much Plaque

Tooth brushing is incredibly important. Brushes and floss remove built up plaque and bacteria that forms when you eat. If you’re not brushing properly, or at all, you might have a plaque build-up. When plaque is built up, tooth enamel can wear away and can make everyday activities painful due to tooth sensitivity. Make sure you brush and floss regularly and thoroughly, and schedule visits with your dentists every 6 months.


If you haven’t been to the dentist in awhile, schedule an appointment with West Chester Dental Arts today! Our caring, experienced professionals will make sure your smile looks its absolute best!