Sensitive Teeth: What is the Cause?

Teeth. Such useful little things in our mouth that can cause such a BIG pain when something is going on. I have been in the dental field for 14 years now and there is always someone who is concerned with the sensitivity that they have. Whether it is only 1 tooth, a few teeth or whole bunch, it can be such a nuisance when dealing with this. Sensitive teeth: What is the cause?

*Please note that anytime you are having sensitivity it is advised to see a dentist to get a diagnosis.*

Possible Reasons for Teeth Sensitivity:

  • Cavity– If a tooth has a cavity, it may be sensitive with hot and cold food/drinks, chewing, sweets or start hurting on its own.
  • Post-op Sensitivity– Have you recently had a dental procedure done? Some sensitivity is normal and can last for quite some time. It is best to contact your dentist that did the work to determine if something else may be going on.
  • Clenching/Grinding– Teeth grinding is usually done at night and most people are unaware that they are even doing it. This process leaves flat areas on teeth and are very evident to any dental professional. The teeth are being “over-worked” and can cause them to be sensitive.
  • Recession/Erosion– This is seen right where the tooth and gum meet. It can be caused by numerous reasons including improper brushing. When recession or erosion is present, it can expose a different type of tooth structure called dentin. Dentin is under the enamel that we normally see on our teeth, and it can be the source of sensitivity.
  • Trauma– Anytime a tooth has an unexpected or unusual force, it can be sensitive. The sensitivity is not caused by the tooth, but from the ligaments that hold the tooth into the bone. It is best described as “bruising” your tooth, although there will be no visual signs of it. (Examples are biting into a piece of gristle in a hamburger….getting hit by a ball…….etc.)
  • Bleaching– Teeth can be sensitive after bleaching them. This can be from OTC strips that were done at home, custom trays from your dentist or in-office bleaching at a dental office. Usually this will go away when the bleaching process has stopped. *Tips to help prevent bleaching sensitivity*

Tooth recession and grinding


Anytime sensitivity is present in a tooth, or teeth, it is advised to call your dentist. Sometimes there are easy fixes that can be done to minimize the problems that one is having. The above list is the most common reasons that people suffer from sensitive teeth.

Questions? Comments? Ask away!