Are you asking yourself, why are my teeth sensitive all of a sudden? The answer could be tooth decay, gum disease, enamel erosion, teeth grinding, acidic foods/drinks, or a recent dental procedure. Treatment options include desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride treatment, fillings, and gum grafting.
When exposed to certain stimuli such as hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods/drinks, one or more teeth experience acute discomfort or pain. Tooth decay, gum disease, enamel erosion, teeth grinding, acidic foods/drinks, dental procedures, and trauma are all common triggers. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about why you may be experiencing sudden tooth discomfort, and what you can do about it.
Possible causes of sudden tooth sensitivity
Sudden teeth sensitivity is a common dental condition that causes discomfort or pain when one or more teeth are exposed to certain stimuli such as hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks. The sudden onset of tooth sensitivity can be frightening and can make it difficult to eat, drink, or talk comfortably.
Tooth decay or cavity, gum disease or recession, enamel erosion, teeth grinding or clenching, acidic foods and drinks, dental procedures, and tooth trauma are all possible causes of sudden teeth sensitivity.
A common cause of sudden teeth sensitivity is tooth decay or a dental cavity. When tooth decay progresses, it can expose the tooth’s sensitive inner layers, causing discomfort or pain when stimulated. Gum disease or recession can also expose the roots of the teeth, which are more sensitive than the enamel, causing sudden teeth sensitivity.
Tooth enamel erosion
Another common cause of sudden tooth sensitivity is enamel erosion. Enamel is the hard outer layer that protects the teeth and can be eroded by acidic foods and drinks, toothbrush abrasion, and certain medications. When the enamel on a tooth is worn away, the sensitive dentin layer is exposed, causing discomfort or pain.
Teeth grinding or clenching, also known as bruxism, can wear away the enamel and expose the dentin layer, causing sudden tooth sensitivity. This condition is frequently linked to stress and can cause jaw pain and headaches.
If you have receding gums, this can cause your teeth to hurt suddenly as the gum tissue pulls back and exposes the highly sensitive tooth roots.
Overconsumption of acidic foods and drinks
Acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits and carbonated beverages, can cause tooth sensitivity by eroding the enamel and exposing the sensitive dentin layer. Temporary sensitivity can also be caused by dental procedures such as teeth whitening or dental restorations.
Tooth trauma, such as a chipped or cracked tooth, can expose the tooth’s sensitive inner layers, resulting in sudden tooth sensitivity.
Using teeth bleaching products
Most teeth whitening products aren’t made for sensitive teeth, so if you have recently been using any bleaching gels, creams or other types of treatments for whitening teeth, this could be the reason behind your suddenly sensitive teeth.
Sinus infections can cause tooth sensitivity by putting pressure on the sinuses, which are located near the roots of the upper teeth. When the sinuses become inflamed or infected, pressure is transferred to the teeth, causing discomfort or sensitivity.
Also, because the sinuses and teeth share nerve pathways, sinus inflammation or irritation can sometimes cause referred pain in the teeth.
In some cases, a sinus infection can cause mucus or fluid buildup in the sinuses, putting pressure on the tooth roots and causing sensitivity. Upper molars are especially vulnerable to this type of sensitivity.
Chronic tooth sensitivity
Chronic tooth sensitivity is a long-term condition in which a person feels discomfort or pain when eating or drinking hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks, or when brushing or flossing their teeth. Chronic sensitivity can be caused by a variety of dental problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, enamel erosion, or exposed tooth roots.
In some cases, overzealous brushing can wear down the enamel and expose the underlying dentin layer of the tooth, causing chronic tooth sensitivity. Grinding or clenching of the teeth, ageing, and genetics are all factors that can contribute to chronic sensitivity.
Diagnosis of suddenly sensitive teeth
To diagnose the cause of sudden teeth sensitivity, a dental examination is typically the first step. The dentist will visually inspect the teeth and gums, looking for signs of decay, recession, or trauma. They may also ask the patient questions about their dental history and recent oral care routine.
During the examination, the dentist may use a dental explorer, a small instrument used to check for decay or cracks in the teeth. They may also check for gum recession, which can expose the roots of the teeth and lead to sensitivity.
In some cases, the dentist may perform additional tests to determine the cause of the sensitivity. One such test is a pulp test, which involves applying hot or cold stimuli to the tooth to check for the presence of an infection or inflammation in the pulp (innermost layer) of the tooth. X-rays may also be taken to check for signs of decay or cracks in the teeth.
If the dentist is unable to determine the cause of the sensitivity, they may recommend a referral to a specialist, such as an endodontist or periodontist. An endodontist specializes in treating dental pulp and can perform more advanced tests, such as a pulp vitality test, to determine the cause of the sensitivity. A periodontist specializes in treating gum disease and may be able to diagnose and treat gum recession or other periodontal issues that may be causing sensitivity.
In some cases, the cause of sudden teeth sensitivity may be obvious, such as a chipped tooth or recent dental procedure. However, in other cases, the cause may be more complex and require a thorough examination and testing to determine the underlying issue.
It is important to seek professional dental advice if you experience sudden teeth sensitivity, as it can be a sign of a more serious dental problem. The earlier the cause is diagnosed, the more effective treatment can be. In addition to seeking professional advice, maintaining good oral hygiene practices and avoiding trigger foods and drinks can also help prevent sudden teeth sensitivity.
Treatment and prevention of suddenly sensitive teeth
The treatment for sudden tooth sensitivity is determined by the underlying cause. To help relieve sensitivity caused by enamel erosion or gum recession, desensitising toothpaste can be used. Fluoride treatment may be advised to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity.
Dental fillings or crowns
Dental fillings or crowns may be required if decay or cracks in the teeth are causing sensitivity. When gum recession is the cause of sensitivity, gum grafting may be recommended.
A night guard may be recommended for patients who grind or clench their teeth to protect the teeth and reduce sensitivity. Avoiding hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks can also help prevent sudden teeth sensitivity.
Fluoride gel or toothpaste
Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily can also help prevent sensitivity by lowering the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are also essential for preventing and treating dental issues that can cause sudden teeth sensitivity.
Cutting out potential trigger foods and beverages
Avoiding trigger foods and drinks including fruit juices, soda and candy can also help reduce the risk of sudden teeth sensitivity.
Final thoughts on suddenly sensitive teeth
Tooth decay, gum disease, enamel erosion, teeth grinding, acidic foods and drinks, dental procedures, and tooth trauma can all be underlying causes of sudden teeth sensitivity. A dental examination, including tests such as x-rays or pulp tests, is used to determine the underlying cause. Desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride treatment, dental fillings or crowns, gum grafting, night guards, avoidance of trigger foods and drinks, and good oral hygiene practises are all treatment options.
If you experience sudden tooth sensitivity, it is critical to seek professional dental advice because early diagnosis and treatment can prevent further dental problems. Regular oral hygiene practises, such as brushing and flossing, can also help prevent sudden tooth sensitivity.
Future research directions could include developing new treatments for sudden tooth sensitivity, such as new dental fillings or crowns, or new gum grafting techniques. Furthermore, research into the underlying causes of sudden teeth sensitivity may result in new preventative measures or treatments.
Overall, both dental professionals and patients should stay current on the latest research and treatment options for unexpected tooth sensitivity.
Q: Why have my teeth suddenly gone sensitive?
A: Tooth decay or cavities, gum disease or recession, enamel erosion, teeth grinding or clenching, acidic foods and drinks, dental procedures, and tooth trauma can all cause sudden teeth sensitivity. If you have sudden tooth sensitivity, you should seek professional dental advice to determine the underlying cause and an appropriate treatment plan. Regular oral hygiene practises, such as brushing and flossing, can also help prevent sudden tooth sensitivity. Avoiding hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks, for example, can also help reduce sensitivity.
Q: Does Covid make your teeth sensitive?
A: While COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness, some research indicates that it may have an impact on oral health, including the possibility of tooth sensitivity. The exact mechanism by which COVID-19 causes teeth sensitivity is unknown, but some experts believe it is related to the virus’s impact on the immune system, which could result in changes in the oral microbiome or an increase in inflammation.
It is important to note that teeth sensitivity can be caused by a variety of factors, and not all cases of sensitivity are caused by COVID-19. If you have sudden teeth sensitivity or other oral health concerns, it is critical to seek professional dental advice to determine the underlying cause and the best treatment plan for you. Regular brushing and flossing can also help prevent sudden teeth sensitivity, regardless of the cause.
Q: Can tooth sensitivity come and go?
A: Yes, depending on the underlying cause, tooth sensitivity can come and go. For example, if the sensitivity is caused by temporary gum irritation or a recent dental procedure, it may resolve on its own as the gums heal. If the sensitivity is caused by a cavity or gum disease, it may appear and disappear as the condition worsens. Teeth grinding or clenching can also result in transient sensitivity.
If you have tooth sensitivity, it is vital to seek professional dental advice because persistent or recurring sensitivity can be a sign of an underlying dental issue that requires treatment, such as gum disease, tooth decay or a tooth abscess. Brushing and flossing on a regular basis, for example, can also help prevent tooth sensitivity from recurring or worsening.