Why are my front teeth sensitive all of a sudden?


Interview Transcript

Interviewer: You have a sensitive tooth. What could it be? Well, we’re going to try to narrow that down for you next on The Scope.

Announcer: Health tips, medical news, research and more for a happier, healthier life. From University of Utah Health Sciences, this is The Scope.

Interviewer: Dr. David Okano is an assistant professor at the University of Utah School of Dentistry and it’s probably a common thing that people come to dentists for. “I’ve got a sensitive tooth, what could it be?” And I understand it could be a lot of things.

Dr. Okano: It most certainly could, Scott. The sensitive tooth indicates that the nerve inside your tooth is responding to some type of stimulus on the surface. That could be either a cold sensitivity, could be hot sensitivity, could be sweet sensitivity.

Interviewer: And do those different sensitivities mean different problems?

Dr. Okano: They absolutely would.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Dr. Okano: Correct. Cold sensitivity is not unusual. People will have receding gums, which causes the root to become exposed. The enamel, which is the crown, does not have nerves on the surface, but the root, basically, does have some sensitivity on the surface. So when your root becomes exposed, for example, through recession, it could be cold sensitive.

Interviewer: Okay. And then what about a sweet sensitive?

Dr. Okano: Same thing, it could be sweet sensitivity on an exposed root surface. But it could also be the beginning stages of a tooth decay problem. In other words, a cavity.

Interviewer: Okay. And then what about the hot sensitivity?

Dr. Okano: Hot sensitivity is a little bit more of a concern. Hot sensitivity could indicate the nerve inside the tooth is starting to go bad, that one of the symptoms of a nerve before it ultimately dies and becomes an abscessed tooth is it goes through a period of hypersensitivity of which hot sensitivity is usually not a good sign. Particularly if it lingers.

Interviewer: But generally, cold or sweet wouldn’t bother that particular problem?

Dr. Okano: They both could.

Interviewer: Okay. But . . .

Dr. Okano: Depending on . . .

Interviewer: But if it’s something hot, then, really, you need to see a dentist.

Dr. Okano: Yes, actually, for any of the sensitivities, I’d recommend that you see a dentist because cold could be something very early in development. Cold, sweet, and hot could be something very late in the development that would perhaps require root canal treatment.

Interviewer: Okay. What are some other causes of tooth sensitivity?

Dr. Okano: Toothpastes, believe it or not.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Dr. Okano: Some of these sensitivity toothpastes are great for treating sensitive teeth, but we also know that toothpastes that are formulated for whitening can be abrasive. Smokers’ toothpastes are very abrasive. That’s how they remove stains, but it can also cause some sensitivity on exposed root surfaces.

Interviewer: All right. In that case, probably discontinue use, I’d imagine.

Dr. Okano: That would be the best recommendation and, again, see your dentist for further follow-up to see if it indicates something a little bit more serious.

Interviewer: So for any of these sensitivities, it could affect just one tooth or is it going to affect all the teeth?

Dr. Okano: It could do either of what you just mentioned. For example, an area of gum recession with an exposed root surface, it may be localized to that tooth. On the other hand, you could have generalized periodontal disease with a lot of bone loss with a lot of gum recession, which would be the symptom of that generalized bone loss and you could have sensitivity throughout the mouth.

Interviewer: Gotcha. Are there other causes of sensitivity? You’ve given us some of the first ones you’d look at.

Dr. Okano: Sure. The sensitivity we’ve just been describing relates to exposed root surfaces. You could also have some sore gums that could be a discomfort to the mouth. And sore gums could certainly be related to periodontal disease, another type of dental disease besides tooth decay.

Interviewer: Is there anything else we need to know about this topic or have we covered it?

Dr. Okano: Well, the lack of symptoms doesn’t mean everything is okay. So certainly, see your dentist for preventive treatments and regular examinations to be sure your teeth and gums are healthy. But at the first sign of a symptom, I would certainly share that with your dentist at the next appointment.

Interviewer: All right. Sounds good. How far, usually, after you start noticing symptoms has the disease, or whatever the issue might be, progressed?

Dr. Okano: That can be highly variable. It could be a very early stage consideration with dental problems that would cause symptoms. On the other hand, with some of the dental diseases, you may not have a lot of symptoms until it is very advanced and sometimes even too late, where nothing can be done. So the severity of symptoms can be really variable as it relates to the severity of the underlying dental problem.

Interviewer: So if I’m hearing you correctly, if somebody has any sort of tooth or gum or any sort of sensitivity, odds are it’s not going to go away.

Dr. Okano: That is correct.

Interviewer: Yeah, and you should go see a dentist right away to prevent further damage.

Dr. Okano: Especially in the early stages. The dental problems, quite often, will not manifest themselves to you as a patient until they’re very advanced and sometimes that could even be too late to do any dental treatment. And there’s a possibility you could lose the tooth even though you did not have symptoms.

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The main symptom of trigeminal neuralgia is a sudden attack of pain (often described as intense, shooting, stabbing or electrical shock-like) that lasts anywhere from seconds to two minutes. Sometimes the pain hits without warning, while other times even mild stimulation of the face from ordinary activities (such as smiling, brushing teeth, eating, drinking, applying makeup, combing or brushing hair, shaving or touching the skin) can trigger a pain attack. At first the attacks may be short and relatively mild, but over time they last longer, are more painful and happen more often.

The trigeminal nerve has three branches in the face, each of which controls a different part of the face, and any or all branches of the nerve may be affected. The pain typically involves only one side of the face. It can affect the upper, middle or lower portions of the face or all of them. The pain never crosses over to the other side of the face. In rare cases, trigeminal neuralgia is felt on both sides of the face, but the right side pain is separate and distinct from the left side pain.

When experiencing an attack of trigeminal neuralgia, individuals will almost always want to be still and avoid talking or moving the face. The pain may cause the face to contort into a painful wince. Attacks of trigeminal neuralgia rarely occur while sleeping.

During certain periods, the attacks of pain may be worse or more frequent. Individuals may also have extended times with no pain (remission). One of the challenges of trigeminal neuralgia is the inability to predict when the next flare-up may happen. Especially severe flare-ups may produce so many pain attacks that the pain feels nearly constant. In severe or long-term cases of trigeminal neuralgia, an aching pain or light numbness may develop in the affected area of the face.

Causes and Risk Factors

The pain of trigeminal neuralgia is usually caused by pressure on the trigeminal nerve at the base of the brain. The pressure can be result from:

  • A stroke that affects the lower part of the brain, where the trigeminal nerve enters
  • A tumor that pushes on the nerve
  • Contact between a normal artery or vein and the trigeminal nerve (the most common cause of trigeminal neuralgia)
  • Injury to the nerve (such as from a car accident or head trauma)
  • Surgery on the teeth and gums or the sinuses can also cause injury to the trigeminal nerve
  • Multiple sclerosis, which causes damage to the nerves and can affect the trigeminal nerve

This condition occurs most often after the age of 50, although it has been found in children and infants. Women are nearly twice as likely to develop trigeminal neuralgia as men are.

What is Sudden Tooth Sensitivity?

Sudden tooth sensitivity is something that most people experience at some point or another and although a common problem, it can be quite a hindrance in your daily life. Sudden tooth sensitivity or dentin hypersensitivity can be caused by several different factors, and may come and go over time. Typically the most common symptom of sensitive teeth is a sharp pain when consuming products that are hot, cold, acidic, or particularly sweet. While this might began as simply a slight nuisance, this sudden sensitivity may likely worsen as time goes on. Therefore we highly recommend scheduling an appointment with your dentist, before this minor problem becomes a major one.

Causes for sudden tooth sensitivity and how we can help!

While there are many factors that can put wear and tear on your teeth and ultimately cause sudden tooth sensitivity, there are typically four main culprits behind this issue.

  1. Clenching/Grinding: clenching and grinding your teeth (or bruxism) might be a side effect of excess stress, excess frustration, malocclusion (jaw misalignment), or perhaps even a reaction to certain medications or stimulants. In addition to the onset of heightened or sudden tooth sensitivity, many patients also report facial pain or frequent headaches accompanying bruxism, thus causing additional discomfort. While making key dietary and lifestyle changes may help alleviate these symptoms, your dentist may also suggest a bruxism appliance or mouth guard. This is a custom fitted device created by your dentist, that provides your jaw with the necessary spacing and cushioning between and around your teeth. These devices can be worn during the day and at night, thus protecting your teeth from acquiring any excess wear.
  2. Fractured Tooth: Sometimes known as “cracked tooth syndrome” small cracks or abrasions on your tooth, although difficult to see sometimes, can cause a significant amount of pain and sensitivity in the affected tooth. Treating a fractured tooth typically varies depending on the size and positioning of the damaged area. The treatments can range from bonding, crowns, or in more serious cases a root canal. Although this may seem excessive for a small fracture, it’s important to realize that these cracks will likely grow in time. Therefore a proactive step would be to address the issue now instead of later.
  3. Tooth Decay: Simply put, tooth decay is the breakdown of the tooth’s enamel and dentin, due to overexposure to acidic bacteria. While this basic dental issue may seem like an obvious problem, it remains a persistent and easy to overlook issue for many. If detected early, your dentist may apply a sealant solution to protect and fill in the groves of your tooth. However if the enamel has been considerably destroyed, a filling will be needed.
  4. Gum Recession: Although periodontal or gum disease is a common issue that can affect people from all walks of life, how you choose to react to such an occurrence often determines how it may affect you individually. Gum disease is a gradual problem that occurs slowly over an extended period, and may initially present itself as inflammation and redness of the gum line. While this may not seem serous at first, the irritated gums may begin bleeding while growing increasingly sensitive to certain food products. This sensitivity is due to the root surface of the tooth becoming exposed resulting in abfraction. To combat this, you dentist may recommend desensitizing toothpaste or gels, as well as using a softened toothbrush to prevent further trauma. Obviously continuing to practice proper oral hygiene under the supervision of your dentist may perhaps be the best solution for this issue as consistently ensuring your gum’s health is ultimately your best option.

Related Article: Sensitive Teeth – Causes and Cures

Schedule your appointment today!

As you can see, there are many ways in which we can help our patients with painful and sudden tooth sensitivity; however, you should certainly come see us to receive a formal diagnosis. By letting us help you, you are taking a necessary first step in getting to the root of the problem!

Why Do My Teeth Hurt When I’m Pregnant?

Being pregnant is both an incredibly special and challenging experience. Your body goes through a ton of changes.

You may not expect it, but your teeth and gums can change during pregnancy. Though it may be tough, it’s important to keep your teeth and gums healthy to prevent infection that can spread to your baby.

Learn more about the changes your mouth goes through during pregnancy, and how you might be able to ease the pain.

Tooth Sensitivity

For some expecting mothers, teeth become extra sensitive. It might be all of your teeth, or just one side or one area of your mouth.

Drinking hot or cold beverages could make your teeth tingle or throb more than they did before you were pregnant. And the sensitivity might fluctuate — there one day, gone the next.

Hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, increase in volume when you’re pregnant, which makes your blood flow increase in volume. This sends more blood through the gums, which can lead to sensitivity of the teeth.

If you grind your teeth, this can also cause sensitivity or pain. Teeth grinding is often caused by stress, and pregnancy can inflict a lot of emotional and physical stress.

Find out if you’re a nighttime tooth grinder >

Tooth sensitivity typically goes away post-pregnancy, but see a dentist if the problem lingers.

Tooth Pain

For many pregnant women, tooth sensitivity quickly elevates to pain. This pain is sometimes felt in other areas of the mouth, too.

Again, the increased blood flow places more pressure on the teeth, which can make them more prone to pain. The pain can sometimes get so bad that you can’t even bring yourself to chew on something soft like rice or bread.

If you typically take medication for your sinuses due to allergies or another condition, you might be advised to stop taking it during pregnancy. In this case, that added pressure in the sinuses can also put stress on areas around the face and jaw, sometimes causing tooth pain.

Loose Teeth

It’s likely been a while since you’ve had a loose tooth. But pregnant women often find teeth become wiggly, along with being painful or sensitive.

Don’t freak out just yet; you’re probably not going to actually lose a tooth.

The reason this happens is directly connected to pregnancy: Your hormones promote muscle relaxation, and this could extend to your gums. When your gums are relaxed, the teeth may become slightly loose.

If you need peace of mind, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

More Cavities

Experiencing toothaches? It could be because you’re more prone to developing cavities when you’re pregnant.

There are a few reasons this is so:

  • Morning sickness: The acid in vomit erodes tooth enamel, which protects your teeth from cavities. Worn enamel means more cavities.
  • Hormones: When your body goes through hormonal changes, that also affects the way you fight bacteria and infection. It also makes it easier for plaque buildup to occur.
  • Diet: Your tastes change during pregnancy, and this could lead to a larger intake of foods that are harmful to the teeth, such as sugar.

Swollen, Red or Bleeding Gums

The increase of hormones and blood flow during pregnancy pushes blood through the gums, which can cause them to swell and become sensitive. Your gums may take on a red appearance and be painful. In some cases, your gums might even bleed during brushing.

Many pregnant women develop gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. This is another effect of the increased blood flow caused by pregnancy hormones.

In some women, “pregnancy tumors” grow on the gums. They’re not a form of cancer; they’re actually just areas of swelling that often occur in between your teeth. It’s easy to make these “tumors” bleed, and they can also be painful. These sores usually happen during the second trimester.

It can be painful to brush your teeth or even eat, but it’s important to stick to at least a twice-daily brushing habit so that plaque doesn’t add to the problem.

Your gums should return to normal after you have your baby, but see your dentist if the issue lingers.

How to Prevent Mouth, Gum and Tooth Pain During Pregnancy

While some of these unfortunate effects of pregnancy are unavoidable, there are some things you can do to help minimize the problem and focus more on enjoying this special time in your life:

Sensitive toothpaste: Purchase toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth. This can help reduce sensitivity and pain in both your teeth and gums.

Soft toothbrush: Hard bristles on a toothbrush can cause even more irritation. Replace your toothbrush with one that has soft bristles.

Night guard: Wearing a night guard can prevent you from grinding your teeth at night.

Calcium: When babies don’t get enough calcium from their mother’s diet, they absorb it directly from their mother’s bones. Calcium ensures strong teeth and gums, so increasing your calcium intake with supplements or calcium-rich foods can help address some of these pregnancy-related oral problems.

Salt water rinse: Salt water rinses allow any mouth wounds to heal more quickly, fight bacteria, and remove food particles that might become lodged and cause cavities. It is natural and safe for pregnant women.

Other mouth rinses: Antimicrobial or fluoridated mouthwash is recommended, as they are gentle but effective. A rinse made of a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water can help after morning sickness and prevent acid from damaging teeth.

Brush your teeth: Stick to a twice-daily (or more) brushing habit, and always brush after you have a bout of morning sickness so the acid doesn’t linger and wear on the enamel.

Healthy diet: Vitamin C fights bacteria, vitamin A fights gum disease, and a healthy, well-rounded diet provides nutrients for you and baby.

Avoid triggers: If you know hot or cold drinks will cause you discomfort, avoid them. Identify any other root causes and eliminate those as much as possible.

Can I Go to the Dentist When I’m Pregnant?

Over the years, the subject of whether or not it’s safe to go the dentist while you’re pregnant has been one of much debate.

The consensus? Yes, it’s perfectly safe to go to the dentist when you’re pregnant. In fact, some OB/GYNs encourage it.

Regular cleanings

Annual/bi-annual cleanings are perfectly safe for pregnant women, and they’re essential to prevention of more serious oral conditions — which could affect your baby, too.

It’s important to make sure you let your dentist know if you’re pregnant or could be pregnant, so they can adjust any treatments as needed.

Dental X-rays

This is probably the most controversial topic when it comes to dental care for pregnant women. While there is no conclusive evidence that dental X-rays are harmful for pregnant women and their babies, it’s probably best to wait until after you’ve given birth to get your X-rays.

Contact us to discuss your oral pain during pregnancy >

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Can Sensitive Teeth Be An Early Sign Of Pregnancy?

Sensitive teeth are particularly painful and distracting. They make drinking hot chocolate or eating ice cream an excruciating experience. The main causes of sensitive teeth are enamel damage, nerve exposure, cracks and gum disease. Pregnant women also suffer from the condition due to the body changes they experience.

Can Sensitive Teeth Be An Early Sign Of Pregnancy?

Pregnancy causes swollen gums and sore teeth due to the rush of hormones. Pregnant women are privy to free dental treatment because of these changes. Morning sickness causes exposure to stomach acid which also damages teeth. If you suddenly experience sore teeth and gums it may indicate hormonal changes common in pregnancy.

The only way to find out if pregnancy is the cause of your sore teeth is to take a pregnancy test. If it is positive it is a possible reason however a visit to a dentist will confirm if it is the cause. Pregnancy is a time of excitement and discomfort and sensitive teeth are just another pain like a sore back that requires care.

Sensitive Teeth And Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes a rush of hormones and increases blood flow thus causing swollen gums and sore teeth. Pregnant women are more susceptible to gum disease and sensitive teeth because they react differently to bacteria. This increases plaque build-up and potential damage to teeth. Dentists recognise the toll pregnancy takes on your teeth resulting in free dental treatment.

Many treatments are not available during pregnancy due to the negative effects they may have on the baby. Amalgam fillings and X rays usually take place after the baby is born to avoid damage to the baby. Visits to the dentist generally concentrate on maintaining healthy teeth during the duration of the pregnancy.

Teeth Care During Pregnancy

It is vitally important to increase your oral health routine during pregnancy to prevent damage to your teeth. Measures include; clean your teeth twice a day, use a small round-headed brush, avoid sugary drinks, snack on non-acidic food, avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol and smoking.

Free dental treatment lasts for the duration of your pregnancy and for one year afterwards. You must complete an FW8 to obtain a maternity exemption certificate (MatEx). Your doctor or nurse will give you a copy to complete. It is definitely worth the effort because of the free treatment available.(Source: NHS Choices).

Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Some women have a sixth sense and have an inkling they are pregnant before they even miss a period. Fatigue, bleeding, cramping, nausea, food cravings, headaches, mood swings and raised basal temperature are early signs of pregnancy. They are also similar to normal menstruation symptoms so you won’t really know until you take a test.

Sensitive teeth, flatulence, nosebleeds, runny nose, prominent veins, constipation, vivid dreams, dizziness and clingy children are subtle signs you may have a baby on board. You may just be having a bad period and have bad teeth so it is important to check it out. (Source: Kidspot)

Toothache During Pregnancy: What To Expect & Do

Trouble finding a comfortable position to sleep, morning sickness funny craving and a sore back is all part and parcel of pregnancy. But it does not stop there. Many other strange symptoms can happen to expectant women during pregnancy. Toothache during pregnancy is one such symptom.

Sometimes, pregnancy can lead to various dental problems like gum disease and a higher risk of decay. This is majorly due to the increased hormones, which may affect your body’s usual response to the plaque. In this article, we are going to look at various dental issues during pregnancy and what to expect.

Are Dental Visits Safe during Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe for pregnant women to visit the dentist. It is highly recommended as it is vital for the health of both you and your baby.

Inform your dentist

It is crucial that you inform your dentist of your condition and the expected due date. If the dental team knows you are pregnant, they may put off specific x-rays, until after the baby is born. If a dental x-ray is unavoidable, the dentist will take extra precaution to ensure the safety of your baby. They may also position the dental chair in a position that makes you more comfortable and helps prevent you from feeling light-headed.

Is Regular Dental Cleaning Safe?

Oral health care, including regular teeth cleaning, is safe throughout pregnancy. It is crucial for pregnant women to have regular dental checkups, cleanings, and all the necessary dental treatments during pregnancy. This is because, during this period, pregnant women are highly susceptible to various dental conditions like pregnancy gingivitis. Also, delaying any necessary treatments during pregnancy can result in significant risk for you and your child.

General Dentist Treatment Advice for Pregnant Women

Medications You Can Take

Make sure to inform your any dentist of any medicines and over the counter drugs you are taking. This information will help them decide what prescription is right for you.

Local Anesthetics During Pregnancy

Fortunately, lidocaine, which is the most commonly used local anaesthetic during dental treatments, is considered to have almost no negative effect on the mother and the fetus (source).

Dental X-Rays During Pregnancy

Getting an intra-oral dental x-ray during pregnancy is safe as the abdomen is not irradiated. However, unless absolutely necessary, x-rays are usually postponed until after birth for the mother’s peace of mind. Full-mouth x-rays are avoided during pregnancy due to the higher amount of radiation involved.

How Does Pregnancy Affect Your Mouth?

While the majority of pregnant women make it through the nine months without experiencing any dental discomfort, others may suffer the following;

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Pregnancy comes with various hormonal changes that may affect your mouth in multiple ways. For instance, some women may experience pregnancy gingivitis, which causes gum inflammation, tenderness, and swelling. Your gums may also bleed whenever you brush your teeth or floss. If not treated, pregnancy gingivitis may lead to a more severe form of gum disease.

Increased Risk of Tooth Decay

Expectant women are at a higher risk of getting cavities because of;

  • Consuming more carbohydrates than usual
  • Morning sickness and vomiting, which increases the acidity in your mouth, leading to the corrosion of the enamel
  • Slacking on brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing for many reasons like a gag reflex, exhaustion, tender gums and morning sickness

Pregnancy Tumors

Some pregnant women develop an overgrowth of tissue on the gum, especially during the 2nd trimester. This is what is known as pregnancy tumours. This tumour is not cancerous, and it disappears after pregnancy. The swelling may be as a result of excessive plaque.

Causes of Sensitive Teeth During Pregnancy


The variations in hormonal behaviour during pregnancy can cause tooth sensitivity. Hormonal changes cause softening of the tissue present in your mouth, intensifying sensitivity. They also hinder your body’s typical response to bacteria, which may cause periodontal infections. As a result, it creates a favourable environment for plaque to build up, making you more susceptible to gingivitis.

Increased blood flow

During pregnancy, your blood flow increases in your gums, giving rise to gum issues like sensitivity, irritability, swelling and gingivitis.

Gum disease

A lot of women develop gum disease during pregnancy due to the hormonal changes occurring in their bodies. If not treated, the infection may affect an unborn child’s development.


The acidic nature of your vomit during pregnancy can cause tooth decay.

Use tooth sensitive toothpaste

Tooth sensitive toothpaste features an active ingredient stannous fluoride, which is clinically proven to protect teeth from painful sensitivity. These kinds of toothpaste also make a big difference in your ability to follow a regular oral care routine.

Use a Soft-bristled toothbrush

Tooth sensitivity requires tender care. A soft bristled brush will clean between and around your teeth thoroughly while gently reducing soreness and bleeding gums.

Wear a nightguard

Avoid grinding your teeth by wearing a night guard to prevent the wearing of your enamel.

Increase your calcium intake

Calcium helps to counter the acids in your mouth that may cause decay. It also helps keep your teeth and bones healthy.

Salt water rinse

Gargling with salt water helps prevent inflammation and works to heal your gums in case of gingivitis.

Other mouth rinses

Use fluoride or an antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent that buildup of plaque and gingivitis. You can also add a teaspoon of baking soda to your water to use as a mouth rinse especially after morning sickness as it helps prevent the acid from damaging your teeth.

Practice good oral hygiene

It is highly recommended that you brush your teeth twice each day using toothpaste that contains fluoride since it provides an extra barrier of protection. While at it, also make sure to floss at least once a day.

Healthy diet

It is important that you try to eat a diet rich in balanced whole foods during pregnancy. Preferably, eat a variety of vegetables, whole grains, fruits and dairy products. Avoid sugary or starchy foods like cakes, cookies, dried fruits, and candy.

Avoid sensitive teeth triggers

Do you experience tooth sensitivity when drinking tea or eating ice cream? If yes, we highly recommend that you avoid such foods (teeth triggers). In most cases, the sensitivity usually goes away after pregnancy. Hence, any subsequent tenderness should subside as well, allowing you to indulge in your favourite ice cream and hot drinks.

Eat Fewer Sweets

The bacteria in your mouth flourish when you consume high amounts of sugary foods. As a result, the bacteria release more acids that can damage your dentine, exposing your teeth to decay, sensitivity and soreness. Hence, it is crucial that you reduce your sugary food consumption. If you must indulge, make sure to follow it up by brushing your teeth to remove the fresh debris and prevent buildup in your mouth.

Visit your Dentist

Make sure to keep up with your regular dental checkups. Also, take care of any oral issues as they arise to prevent their severity from escalating. Just make sure to remind your dentist that you are expectant so that they can undertake proper precaution such as foregoing certain types of x-ray.

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One of the most common complaints we hear from patients during their dental checkup is that they’re experiencing sudden tooth sensitivity. Have you ever been eating or drinking something and felt a sudden sharp pain in one of your teeth out of nowhere? This happens to a lot of people and it often happens without warning. The pain is sharp, sudden, and surprising which can leave people wondering what is going on to cause this sensitivity.

The American Academy of Endodontists (AAE) describes tooth sensitivity as a brief sensation caused by a stimulus, such as heat or cold, to exposed dentin, the layer beneath the hard, white enamel of the teeth. Tooth sensitivity is quite common and approximately 1 in 8 people experiencing it according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). If you’re wondering “why are my teeth sensitive all of a sudden?” you’re certainly not alone.

There are several dental conditions that cause tooth sensitivity, most of which involve the loss of protective covering over the dentin. In healthy teeth, enamel protects the underlying layer of dentin, which is softer than enamel. The tooth roots are protected by gums but if the enamel is worn down or if the gum line has receded, the dentin becomes exposed.

Dentin contains thousands of microscopic tubules, or channels, leading to the tooth’s pulp. When exposed to external elements, these dentinal tubules allow heat, cold, acidic or even sticky substances to reach the nerves inside the tooth, causing pain. Your dentist will be able to pinpoint exactly what that cause of your tooth sensitivity is but here are some common causes:

1. Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush.

If you brush too hard or use a hard-bristled toothbrush you can wear down enamel which will cause the dentin to become exposed. You can help this by switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush and not brushing as hard.

2. Acidic foods & drinks

Acidic foods and drinks contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel so foods and drinks like soda, juice, citrus fruits, and sports drinks can contribute to tooth sensitivity and trigger that sudden pain.

3. Teeth grinding

If you grind or clench your teeth (while awake or asleep) you are wearing your tooth enamel away. Tooth enamel may be the strongest substance in your body but it is not immune to the damage done by grinding your teeth. Talk to your dentist about getting a mouth guard that can stop you from grinding in your sleep. Your dentist will be able to custom-make a bite guard to fit your teeth perfectly.

4. Gum disease

The first level of this disease is called gingivitis. With gingivitis, your gums can become inflamed and irritated and they start to recede exposing the roots of the teeth. The root is easily irritated by sensation, so if you have noticed some gum recession this may be the cause of your sensitivity.

5. Long-term mouthwash use

Most people are surprised to hear this but some over-the-counter mouthwashes and rinses contain alcohol and other chemicals that can make your teeth more sensitive. If your dentin is exposed, this can be even worse. If you are using one of these mouthwashes, switch to a neutral fluoride rinse or just skip the rinse and focus on improving your flossing and brushing.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity and you’re left wondering “why are my teeth sensitive all of a sudden?” be sure to make an appointment with your dentist so they can find the root of the problem and provide relief.

Why Do I Have Tooth Sensitivity All of a Sudden?

Depending on the severity and location of the crack, you may need a restoration such as a crown or root canal to prevent a future extraction.

Heat Sensitivity

Having teeth that are sensitive to hot foods or beverages usually means that there’s some type of nerve damage. You could have an undiagnosed abscess or a deep cavity that has allowed the nerve inside of your tooth to start to die. Past trauma, such as an injury during a sporting event or automobile accident can lead to nerve death over a decade later.

Normal cavities won’t cause heat sensitivity, so if your tooth hurts when you’re eating something hot, there’s a bigger problem going on.

Cold or Generalized Sensitivity

Do you feel a “zing” when you breath in through your mouth, drink a glass of ice water, or have sensitivity all day long? Don’t panic – this symptom is actually quite common and one of the easier ones to fix. It could be a from a couple of causes; One – that you’ve been using a whitening product (toothpaste or otherwise) that’s lead to some unwanted side effects, or Two – you have receding gumlines that are leaving a small amount of root surfaces exposed, which tend to be very sensitive when they come into contact with the “outside elements.”

Treating Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth desensitization treatments are a great way to reduce symptoms of pain and sensitivity in healthy teeth. This is usually the case if you have mild recession, have recently been using a whitening product, or naturally sensitive teeth. We can apply the desensitizer right here in our office at the time of your checkup; it only takes a minute or two. Most people find that the benefits last up to three months at a time, so you can always pop back by to have a new treatment when you need it.

When non-invasive solutions aren’t an option, you may need more proactive treatments like dental work or gum treatments (like a graft or deep cleaning.) Grafting and bonding can physically cover exposed tooth roots (when recession is a concern) so that their sensitive tendencies are kept to a minimum. If you brush aggressively or grind your teeth, these habits can also contribute to receding gums. Ask us what you can do to help.

If you’re using whitening products at home, stop. Try using a sensitivity toothpaste and a fluoride mouthrinse every day for two weeks. If symptoms go away, it’s likely that the cause was nothing major. You may just need to scale back on your whitening products and use them less frequently. But if they don’t improve, it’s time to schedule a checkup at our office.

During your teeth cleaning in Ventura we will assess your teeth and screen for conditions that could be contributing to sensitivity. Once we do, we can determine the best type of treatment.

Call our dentist in Ventura today to schedule your next cleaning and exam.


Is a sensitive tooth becoming a problem? One visit to Dr. David Satnick will bring much needed relief.

Schedule an appointment or for more information call 805.639.3050 now!

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