Did you know that more than 40 million American adults suffer from tooth sensitivity? That’s a sizeable number of the population, which just goes to show that this is a topic that warrants attention. Even if you aren’t experiencing tooth sensitivity at this time, you’ll benefit from knowing about it and the ways you can prevent it or treat it. Read on to arm yourself with the facts.

What is Tooth Sensitivity?

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Few things are as terrible as having a condition that creates perpetual discomfort. This is even more the case when the pain is closely associated with eating and drinking — things we must do to live and which, in better circumstances, typically bring pleasure. Here’s a detailed explanation of what’s actually happening in your body when you have teeth sensitivity.

The crowns, or the part of your teeth above the gumline, are covered with a layer of protective enamel. On the other hand, the roots below your gumline are protected with a material called cementum. Underneath the enamel and cementum lies dentin, which is less dense than the protective coverings. Dentin contains microscopic canals called dentin tubules, and when enamel or cementum wears away or becomes damaged, this exposes the dentin. When your gums recede and expose the dentin, the tubules allow fluid to flow into them and are affected by heat and cold causing the nerves in the tooth to have sensitivity and pain, according to the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy website. Read more at Colgate

Clearly, there’s a lot going on with your teeth; thorough daily hygiene is necessary to ensure that all parts of the tooth remain healthy. Even so, you need to know what can potentially harm your teeth and lead to sensitivity. This is what we’ll take a closer look at in the next section.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?


There are many factors that can erode the protective covering of teeth. Here are some of them:

Common causes of enamel loss that create discomfort with heat or cold include:

  • cavities
  • tooth decay
  • tooth injury, like a bruised tooth or chipped tooth
  • teeth grinding
  • gum disease
  • receding gums
  • harsh dental-care products, like whitening toothpastes and alcohol-based mouthwashes
  • some kinds of dental work, like crowns and fillings
  • acidic foods
  • tooth infection
  • forceful brushing
  • smoking and use of tobacco products
  • limited access to oral care
  • poor oral hygiene

For heat-and-cold-related tooth discomfort caused by a chronic underlying problem, pain will likely recur when eating and drinking — unless the underlying cause is corrected. Read more at Healthline

Generally, if you avoid these tooth-eroding elements you’ll have much less to worry about when it comes to tooth sensitivity. Still, are there some people who need to be concerned about this problem more than others? Read on to find out.

Who’s At Risk?

Toothache - man with teeth problems

Sorry for the fakeout, but simply put, anyone who is regularly exposed to the aforementioned things or doesn’t properly care for their teeth is at risk of developing sensitivity. The post below provide more information.

There are no at-risk groups for tooth sensitivity. It can happen to anyone, according to Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton, a dentist in Washington, D.C. and former president of the D.C. Dental Society.

“The most common symptom … is a sudden, sharp flash of pain when teeth are exposed to air, cold, sweet, acidic or hot foods,” Culotta-Norton told Live Science. Some people may also experience tooth sensitivity from brushing or flossing their teeth. Read more at Live Science

Looking at the list of things that can potentially cause sensitivity, there’s obviously a lot to moniter to prevent this widespread issue. For instance, your diet, dedication to your oral hygiene and your choice of dental care provider all play a role in this issue and with your overall oral health, to boot.

If you are living with the pain of tooth sensitivity, schedule an appointment with Dr. Robert Harrell at Adult Dentistry of Ballantyne. Call 704-541-9888 or use the contact form on our website to set your visit. Dr. Harrell will review your needs, explain the treatment options that are appropriate for your circumstances and help you decide which best suits your situation.