Sensitive teeth is a symptom that we always take seriously when it occurs in young healthy people. Sensitive teeth are sometimes the result of some sort of problem but there are many things that can be the cause.


1. Tooth Decay
  • Cause - A diet high in sugar and and refined carbohydrates and poor oral hygiene.
  • Symptoms - sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweets.
  • Treatment - dental restorations and an aggressive preventative plan to eliminate the cause.

2. Generalized Receding Gums and Bone Loss

  • Cause - years of untreated or unsuccessfully treated periodontal disease leaving large areas of exposed root surfaces. Tooth roots are not covered with enamel and there are exposed nerve endings very near the surface.
  • Symptoms - sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweets.
  • Treatment - good management of periodontal disease is the start. Desensitizing toothpastes (Sensodyne) and mouth rinses can help.

3. Localized Gum Recession and Root Exposure

  • Causes - may be due to a lack of bone over the roots especially on the outside. This can also be attributed to acid erosion os bruxism.
  • Symptoms - sensitive to hot, cold , and sweets.
  • Treatment - thorough but gentle tooth cleaning and avoid aggressive brushing. Desensitizing toothpastes and rinses can be helpful.

4. Acid Erosion

  • Causes - high acid levels, not caused by bacteria, but generally caused by very acidic foods in the diet such as citrus fruits, fruit juices, energy drinks, colas, and other soft drinks. Can also be the be result of acid reflux, bulimia, anorexia nervosa. This acidic process thins the enamel all over and eventually leads to exposed dentin which is sensitive.
  • Symptoms - sensitive to hot, cold, and sweets.
  • Treatment - remove the causes as much as possible. Using densensitizing toothpastes and oral rinses may provide partial relief. Some areas may need restorations.

5. Bruxism

  • Cause - bruxism is an abnormal grinding of the teeth most often at night. The cause is mainly unknown although there are some contributing factors that can worsen the problem. Some contributing factors that make include stress, alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, ecstasy, and narcotics.
  • Symptoms - soreness in the muscles of the head and neck, often a stiff neck in the morning, pain in the TM joint, headaches, and teeth may be sensitive.
  • Treatment - since the cause is not known there is no definitive treatment for this problem. However identifying and controlling the contributing factors can be helpful. Failing at this we resort to damage control by making a night guard which will protect the teeth from damage and reduce the symptoms.

6. Uneven Bite

  • Causes - in patients with a large variety of different types of dental restorations all the varied types of materials wear at different rates and high spots occur.
  • Symptoms - localized sensitive teeth, muscle soreness, headaches, and the TM joint may be sore.
  • Treatment - this is treated by a procedure called "Equilibration". The high spots in the occlusion are identified and carefully ground down until an even, comfortable, correct bite is reestablished.