Why Do Teeth Become Sensitive?

Exposed dentine is one of the several causes of sensitive teeth. Diet, stomach acids or vigorous tooth brushing can soften the outermost layer of teeth (known as the enamel).

Incorrect brushing can also lead to receding gums that expose parts of the teeth not protected by enamel, exposing the dentine. Dentine is the layer under the enamel and it is much softer and offers less resistance against acids and aggressive brushing. These factors can lead to sensitive teeth.

Dentine is made up of tiny tubes that go from the inside of the tooth to the outside. A liquid fills the tiny tubes, which can become displaced. When the liquid becomes displaced it activates nerve endings inside the tooth which is when you can experience pain. Causes of fluid displacement (nerve stimulation) can be cold, air pressure, drying, or sweet and sour stimuli.

Acid softens your enamel, so brushing immediately after eating or drinking high-acid food or drink can actually cause damage. Wait at least half an hour and then start brushing. Make a habit of drinking water, especially if your mouth feels dry easily; dehydration reduces saliva production.

Avoid or reduce consumption of acidic drinks and use a straw when drinking them. You shouldn’t avoid healthy drinks with some natural sugars and acids, such as fruit juices. Whenever you drink or eat food with acidic components (like apples or grapefruits) drink some water, rinse your mouth really well with water or mouthwash.

Not all exposed dentine is sensitive as over time these tubes can become blocked and thus prevent nerve stimulation/sensitivity. Blocking these tubes is also achievable with certain desensitizing kinds of toothpaste. If you aren’t sure which ones might work best for you, your dentist will be able to advise you.

Unsure about your dental health? Call your nearest Synergy Dental Clinic and we’ll be happy to help.