Sensitive Teeth: Painful to Put Pressure on Teeth

Sensitive Teeth: Painful to Put Pressure on Teeth
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Sensitive Teeth: Painful to Put Pressure on TeethClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Sensitive Teeth Explained
  2. Causes
  3. How to Manage
  4. Treatment Options
  5. References

A tooth can be sensitive to touch and pressure, when eating, or when exposed to hot or cold beverages or foods. Sensitive teeth can be caused by a lot of factors, including tooth decay, trauma to the tooth, and gum disease.

You can manage sensitive teeth by using specialized toothpastes, avoiding extreme temperatures, and practicing good oral hygiene.

When sensitive teeth progress for longer than a week or two, it is time to see your dentist. A dentist can provide several different treatment options depending on the cause of your sensitive teeth.

Sensitive Teeth Explained

Sensitive teeth can be a mild discomfort that only lasts for a few seconds, or they can be an ongoing issue that can cause it to be painful to put any kind of pressure on your tooth. You may feel this discomfort when touching your teeth or when eating or drinking foods and drinks that are too hot or too cold.

Sensitive teeth can impact anyone at any age. However, they are most common between the ages of 20 and 40.

Causes for Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth can be caused by worn enamel that exposes the dentin and dental pulp.1 The enamel is the protective coating on the outside of your teeth that can be worn down as plaque builds up and forms into tarter. This leads to tooth decay, which can expose nerves and lead to tooth sensitivity.2

Gum disease can also cause tooth sensitivity in much the same way. It can lead to gum recession, which can expose tooth roots and nerves.3

Additional causes of tooth sensitivity can include:

  • Worn fillings.
  • Fractures or cracks in the tooth.
  • Teeth grinding.
  • Toothbrush abrasion caused by brushing too hard or too often.
  • Teeth bleaching.

Managing Sensitive Teeth

The trick to managing sensitive teeth is to understand the cause and its severity.

If your teeth are only sensitive after having a procedure done, for instance, they are likely to return to normal after a few days or weeks. You will just need to avoid hot and cold temperatures in the meantime.

It can be helpful to stay away from overly hot and cold beverages and foods, and use at least lukewarm tap water to brush your teeth. Rinsing your teeth with a warm salt water mouthwash can help to reduce pain and sensitivity as well.

There are also special desensitizing toothpastes on the market that can help with sensitive teeth. If your sensitive teeth are more significant and persist for more than a few weeks, talk to your dentist about further treatment options. Sensitive teeth can often be the symptom of a dental issue that needs to be addressed.

Treatment Options

Treatments for sensitive teeth depend on the cause.

If your tooth sensitivity is caused by tooth decay and/or gum disease, the underlying issue will need to be treated to alleviate the sensitivity. Dental fillings, crowns, and root canals can repair the tooth and gums, which can help to cover up exposed roots and nerves, and therefore help to eliminate sensitive teeth.

Dental professionals can also use special desensitizing fluoride rinses, gels, varnishes, and products to help “seal” the tooth and decrease sensitivity. Your teeth may need to be “painted” a few times to protect the enamel and manage tooth sensitivity. It can take a few treatments a few weeks apart to improve tooth sensitivity.

Your dentist can also model proper toothbrushing techniques to ensure that you are not eroding your enamel and causing further sensitivity. A soft-bristled toothbrush is best.

If you grind your teeth, your dentist can create a mouthguard that you can wear at night to keep from eroding your teeth further.

Sensitive teeth can be treated. Practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly can help to manage issues and prevent dental problems that can lead to tooth sensitivity, pain, and further complications.

General References

Sensitive Teeth. Oral Health Foundation. Date Fetched: August 29, 2021.

Medical References

1 Sensitive Teeth. Mouth Healthy American Dental Association (ADA). Date Fetched: August 29, 2021.

2 Tooth Decay. (June 2021). U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Date Fetched: August 29, 2021.

3 Periodontal (Gum) Disease. (July 2018). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Date Fetched: August 29, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.