Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Last Updated August 2021

Tooth sensitivity can be an indication that your tooth enamel has worn away. Find out how this happens and what you can do to avoid the foods, drinks and even seemingly harmless habits that can harm enamel.


Cause #1: Aggressive Brushing

Brushing too hard or side to side may wear down the visible white part of the tooth called enamel, particularly where the teeth meet the gums, where the enamel layer is thin. If you find that you go through your brushes faster than your floss, you may need to adjust your technique to save your enamel.

Cause #2: Gum Disease

A build-up of plaque can lead to gum recession. Pockets can form in the gums around the tooth, making the area difficult to keep clean and the problem worse.

Cause #3: You Have Receding Gums

You may have noticed that your gums are starting to pull away from your teeth. This means your gums are receding, exposing the sensitive root of the tooth.

Cause #4: Dental Erosion

If you frequently eat sharp-tasting and/or sour food and drinks, this could be stripping away tooth enamel. If enamel is worn away, the dentine underneath is exposed which can lead to sensitivity.

Cause #5: A Cracked Tooth

A crack can run from the biting surface of a tooth down towards the root. Extreme temperatures, especially cold, may cause discomfort.


Avoid these if you experience pain in your teeth.

Enemy #1: Cold Stuff

Thought you’d drown your sensitive-teeth worries in a pint of ice cream? Think again. Your enamel is like a coat that shields the dentine when frosty treats hit the tooth surface and when it’s worn down, cold stuff really hurts. Even breathing in cold air can lead to that unexpected feeling of sensitivity pain in your teeth.

Enemy #2: Hot Stuff

Just as you wouldn’t want to have boiling-hot water splashed on your skin, your teeth can’t handle hot temperature liquids when your enamel is worn down.

Enemy #3: Acidic Stuff

Do you love citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles and wine? Your teeth don’t. Acid wears away at your enamel, making them more sensitive than ever.

Enemy #4: Sweet Stuff

Another acid culprit is sugar. The bacteria in your mouth love sugar, and the more of it you eat, the more acid they make. We know many people have a sweet tooth, but some of the worst offenders to avoid are fizzy drinks, some sports drinks and juice.


1. Ease up your brushing technique.

Sensitive teeth need extra care. The harder you brush, the higher your chances of abrasion to the tooth surface are. Even if your teeth start feeling better, it’s important to keep brushing them gently with a soft bristled tooth brush. Brush gently and carefully around the gum line so you do not remove more gum tissue.

2. Watch your diet.

Be careful not to eat too many highly acidic foods such as oranges and lemons, as they can gradually dissolve tooth enamel and lead to dentin exposure. Such foods may also aggravate the sensitivity and start the pain reaction.

3. Maintain good oral hygiene.

To ensure you have a good oral care regime, be sure to follow proper brushing and flossing techniques to thoroughly clean all parts of your teeth and mouth. Add a mouthwash into your daily routine to help treat sensitive teeth, such as LISTERINE® Advanced Defence Sensitive

4. Look for toothpaste with a little TLC.

Break up with your favourite mint-flavoured paste and look for something with a softer side, like a paste with fluoride.

5. Don’t be a hero.

Are you experiencing sensitive teeth pains? If so, stop waiting, and head to a dentist. Your dentist can offer hygiene instructions and fluoride treatments.



What Is The Difference Between Tooth Sensitivity And Pain In Your Mouth?

Tooth sensitivity is usually a sharp pain in response to cold air or food or drinks that are especially hot or cold or very sweet or sour. If you’re experiencing pain that is more severe and more constant, chances are it’s a different kind of mouth pain.