Sensitive teeth, referred to medically as dentinal hypersensitivity, can occur when gums pull away from your teeth at the gumline exposing the dentin layer of your tooth. Dentin is the softer tooth layer that lies beneath the hard enamel surface. Below the gumline dentin is not protected by the enamel that covers the part of the tooth you can see in your mouth. Once dentin is exposed, the microscopic pores called tubules that lead to the tooth nerve are left unprotected. Hot, cold and sometimes sweet or acidic foods can trigger sensitivity pain.

There are several causes that can contribute to this condition. One is gum recession due to gum disease, another can be overaggressive brushing or brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush. Too many acidic foods and beverages, teeth grinding, tooth decay or physical injury to the tooth as well as recent dental procedure can act also as contributing factor.

Always see your dental professional for tooth pain that is severe or consistent and lasts for more than a day or two, but if you have the sharp, shooting pains commonly felt with tooth sensitivity, use products that are designed to block the tubules and relieve the pain including toothpaste for sensitive teeth and gums.

With the many recent advancements in oral health technology, you might not have to accept sensitive teeth as a fact of life. There are a number of options for treatment of sensitive teeth such as brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day to prevent gum disease, be sure to clean all parts of your mouth, including between teeth and along the gumline. Brush gently and use a soft bristled electric toothbrush. This will help prevent overaggressive brushing and protect your enamel from being worn away. Avoid acidic foods and drinks and use a toothpaste designed to help protect your teeth against sensitivity.

While there are many effective over-the-counter methods of treatment for sensitive teeth, it’s always a good idea to consult with your dental professional if you experience ongoing sensitivity as it could be a sign of more serious problems.