Sensitive mouth: everything you need to know about teeth sensitivity

You might be wondering if you’re the only one suffering or is it normal to experience teeth sensitivity? Sensitivity can be experienced while having anything that is hot, cold, sweet, or even when you breathe in from your mouth. Not all sensitivity problems need treatment. Sensitivity to some extent is experienced by everyone.

But if it is severe then your dentist might help you with knowing what the cause is as well as provide you with treatment options. It’s a sharp pain that’s caused by hot, cold, acidic or sweet foods and beverages. Understanding whether you are suffering from sensitivity or tooth pain is very important as the treatment for both are different. Let’s find out the difference—

What does having a sensitive mouth mean?

Sensitive mouth is when more than 4-5 teeth suddenly feel sensitive on eating anything hot or cold or sweet. A sensitive mouth is when your teeth look flat and worn off with some surface irregularities and micropores on your teeth.

Learning the difference between tooth pain and sensitivity pain?

Sensitivity is when the pain occurs only after the stimulus to cold and heat. Sensitivity pain lasts for a few seconds and goes off when the stimulus is removed. Tooth pain is a more severe type of pain that can range from dull pain to sharp shooting pain. A person suffering from tooth pain can have sleepless nights, disturbed sleep, pain while chewing food, pain while drinking normal water, etc. The tooth pain lasts from a few minutes to even hours or days.

Why do we suffer from teeth sensitivity?


Here’s what you need to understand first—

The uppermost layer of the tooth is called enamel. The enamel is like a helmet that protects the underlying structures of the teeth. Protecting this enamel is very important as once the enamel is lost it cannot regrow again. Below this enamel is the yellow dentin which when exposed to any stimulus sends pain signals through the nerves which reside in the dentinal tubules. There are so many reasons and factors responsible for sensitivity.

Sensitivity can range from affecting a single tooth to affecting all your teeth. Severe sensitivity affecting all your teeth can be irritating and frustrating. Hence getting to the root cause of sensitivity is very essential. Majority of your teeth may be worn off either due to repeated friction between your teeth, erosion or due to aggressive brushing ( brushing too hard).

Sensitivity usually occurs when the enamel of your tooth is worn off exposing the inner sensitive layer called dentin. Consuming anything cold/ hot, sweet/ sour can act as a stimulus at this point can cause extreme sensitivity in your tooth.

Let’s get to the root of your sensitivity problems and find out your reason for tooth sensitivity—

Causes of sensitivity in teeth



Brushing too hard or aggressively

Brushing too aggressively causes friction between the bristles of the toothbrush and the surface of the teeth again causing the enamel layer to wear off. This abrasion of the teeth is seen as small pits and ditches on the tooth. Due to these ditches, the underlying dentin is exposed and sensitive to cold, heat, sweet or any stimulus.

Attrition (wearing of teeth)

Flattening of teeth due to constant friction exposes the inner layers of your teeth that are more sensitive.

Tooth erosion (due to acidic contents in the juices and drinks)

Dental enamel is the thin outermost layer of your tooth that protects the underlying layers from damage and decay. Enamel loss can be caused by a number of factors including tooth decay, gum disease, aging and genetics.

Your enamel can also be worn away by brushing too hard or using a toothbrush with hard bristles. Without this protective layer, the dentine underneath becomes exposed causing you to feel pain when you consume food and drinks at extreme temperatures or eat highly acidic foods.

Bruxism (grinding of teeth)

Subconscious grinding of teeth can cause flattening of teeth due to constant friction. This exposes the inner sensitive dentin layer causing teeth sensitivity.

Teeth clenching

Many people have a habit of grinding or clenching their teeth while concentrating or during their sleep. Due to this, there is friction between both the surface of the teeth that are in contact. The friction causes the wearing of the enamel layer of the tooth exposing the super sensitive dentin.

Excess consumption of acidic drinks and juices

The acidic content in the foods and beverages can harm your teeth. It can cause erosion of the enamel and can be one of the reasons for your sensitivity. Severe stomach acidity and GERD can also harm your teeth by causing erosion.

Frequent unsupervised teeth whitening

Whitening your teeth is nothing but bleaching them to become more white and bright. Previously many whitening agents which were available in the market had been known to cause teeth sensitivity. One of the reasons for this being the bleaching agents in the whitening kits were known to irritate the dentin layer of the tooth. But with newer kits available the whitening kits in the market these days have proved to cause lesser or no sensitivity.

Medical and dental conditions


Sever acidity (acid reflux/ GERD)

Severe acidity and GERD can push the stomach acids back in the mouth that contain high concentration of acids that can dissolve your enamel and cause tooth erosion and also make your teeth more susceptible to tooth cavities.

Receded gums

Gums that recede down due to gum infections like periodontitis expose the roots of the teeth that cause teeth sensitivity.

Chipped or broken tooth

A crack in the tooth while biting something very hard is one of the most common reasons for single tooth sensitivity. A crack in your tooth allows food particles and bacteria to seep into the inner part of your tooth. The nerve endings are suddenly exposed and pain signals are carried to the brain. A fractured tooth or a chipped tooth also becomes sensitive as the enamel that protects the tooth breaks off.

After teeth cleaning and polishing treatment

Most people experience sensitivity in their teeth after cleaning and polishing. This is because the area near the gums is made free from all the tartar and plaque deposits that were previously forming a layer on the tooth. Because of the tartar deposits, the underlying tooth structure is prevented from getting exposed to cold or heat stimuli. But if we do not clean our teeth that is much worse.

Gum infections and natural shrinking of gums

As you grow older the gums show some changes like becoming loose and shrinking. The gums recede down exposing the roots of the teeth. The roots of the teeth are very much sensitive to cold or heat.

The tartar buildup and plaque which gets accumulated between the gums and the tooth irritate the gum tissue. This causes the gums to leave their attachment with the tooth and recede down. Once the gums recede down it paves way for more plaque to accumulate. This cycle goes on exposing the roots of the teeth and causing your teeth to become more and more sensitive.

Gum abscess and tooth abscess can also give you the interpretation of having tooth sensitivity.


Sensitive teeth may run in families due to the quality and hardness of the enamel layer.

Common signs and symptoms of teeth sensitivity

Though signs and symptoms of teeth sensitivity may vary from person to person and on the severity, some signs and symptoms may be common.

However, some amount of sensitivity is common severe sensitivity in more than 3-4 teeth should not be ignored.

Here are some common signs that may help you understand if you are suffering from sensitivity issues

  • Sensitivity pain that resolves after eating hot/cold foods and beverages
  • Cannot hold slightly cold water in your mouth for more than 30 seconds
  • Unpleasant reactions to hot foods and drinks.
  • Extreme sensitivity and discomfort while having acidic/ alcoholic beverages
  • Cold weather sensitivity
  • Pain during brushing or flossing
  • Flat and worn-off teeth
  • Yellow teeth
  • Flat and thin enamel layer on your front teeth
  • Flattening of chewing surfaces teeth that are behind
  • Receded gums and exposed roots of teeth

Sensitive teeth and it’s long-term impacts

Sensitivity does have long-term impacts and this can be troublesome. Long term impact of sensitivity can invite more dental problems like—

  • Thin enamel layer of teeth
  • Sensitivity can get worse
  • May be more prone to yellow teeth
  • You will not be able to enjoy your favorite food items
  • Cavities can attack your teeth much faster

Ignoring sensitivity? What can go wrong?

Ignorance is not the solution for sensitivity. Sensitivity does not get any better if ignored. But if you do, this is what is coming for you—

  • Tooth cavities
  • Yellowing of teeth
  • Wasting of teeth

Which diseases can aggravate if ignored (Dental & otherwise)

  • Tooth cavities
  • Yellowing of teeth
  • Wasting of teeth

At-home care for sensitive teeth

What to do when teeth are sensitive? You often suffer from sensitivity issues but don’t know where to start from. here are some tips that can help you take care of sensitive teeth.

  • Avoid brushing aggressively. Use less brushing pressure to brush your teeth.
  • Be gentle and use the right brushing strokes to brush your teeth.
  • Use a toothpaste that contains Anti- sensitivity agents blocking the nerves that carry sensitivity signals
  • Avoid excess consumption of citric juice and alcoholic drinks.
  • You can also dilute high concentrated acidic beverages before consumption.
  • Avoid Using alcoholic mouthwashes to rinse your teeth
  • Avoid food colouring agents in your food as you could be more prone to teeth staining
  • Limit the intake of aerated (soda) drinks. preferably use a straw for the same.

Which oral care products are best to cure teeth sensitivity?

Choosing your oral care products while suffering from sensitivity issues are very critical. Some oral care products may worsen your sensitivity too as they contain more abrasive agents that may damage your enamel. So choose your products wisely— You need products that are—

  • Toothpaste – Calcium Sodium Phosposilicate toothpastes that have less abrasive agents.
  • Toothbrush- Ultra soft bristle toothbrush to prevent damage to tooth enamel.
  • Mouthwash- Non-alcoholic Sodium fluoride mouthwash to prevent early tooth cavities.
  • Floss – Wax-coated dental tape floss
  • Tongue cleaner – U-shaped / silicon tongue cleaner

The bottom line

Sensitivity affects more than half the population. A sensitive mouth can get worse if not addressed on time. Choosing the right sensitivity products is a must to prevent it from getting worse (Click here to know more about dental care kit for teeth sensitivity). To know if you are suffering from sensitivity issues look for the above-mentioned signs and symptoms. You can even take the mouth scan from your phone (on the DentalDost App) to know the real root cause of your sensitivity. Consult with real-time dentists and specialists on the scanO App to help you get step-by-step guidance on sensitivity issues.


  • Sensitivity affects more than half the population
  • It may affect a single tooth or all your teeth
  • Sensitivity mostly occurs due to exposure of the inner dentin layer of your tooth
  • Addressing it within time and choosing the right dental care products can protect your teeth and prevent it from getting worse.
  • Scanning your teeth regularly to keep a check on it’s severity can help you prevent future complications of sensitive teeth.

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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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