What Causes a Sensitive Tooth?


A Sensitive Tooth Can Be Very Uncomfortable!

Let's Explore the Causes & Treatments

Tooth sensitivity can be anything from a small twinge of pain to severe discomfort that lasts for several hours. Typically people find they sensitive to cold or hot food and drinks, but others are sensitive to sweet or sour foods. Many people experience sensitive teeth and it can start any time. Sensitive teeth are reported more often by people aged 20 to 40, and women are more likely to be affected than men.


A sensitive tooth can be an early warning sign of more serious dental issues. The dental staff at St. Croix Family Dentistry can help you determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

Causes of Sensitive Teeth

When tooth enamel, the protective outer layer of the crown of the tooth, is gone, nerve endings causing pain are exposed. (Learn more about protecting tooth enamel with proper brushing and knowing when to brush your teeth.)


Tooth sensitivity can also occur when gums recede, exposing the tooth root. Gum erosion can happen naturally. If you’re over 40, it could be that your gums are showing signs of pulling away from the tooth. Gum disease, caused by plaque and tartar buildup, can also cause receding gums.


Teeth grinding or clenching, which often occurs when we’re asleep, can wear enamel away.

A cracked tooth or filling can cause pain, especially when exposed to cold.

Bleaching treatments are also a cause of tooth sensitivity. This sensitivity is often temporary and goes away when you stop bleaching treatments.

Treatments for Sensitive Teeth

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, it’s important to schedule a visit with your dentist. Clinic staff will work with you to discover the cause of your tooth sensitivity and can recommend the best at-home and in-office treatments, including:


  • Toothpaste for sensitive teeth works over time to soothe nerves, reduce pain signals, and build a protective layer over exposed dentin. Relief can come in a few days to several weeks.
  • Fluoride gel, varnish, rinses, and desensitizing pastes, used in the clinic, strengthen enamel and reduce the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. Sometimes several applications, spaced weeks apart, are needed.
  • Mouth guards can be fitted by your dentist if the cause of your sensitive teeth is from enamel loss due to tooth grinding or clenching.
  • Fillings, crowns, inlay, and bonding are treatments used to correct a flaw or decay in the tooth.
  • In more persistent cases of tooth sensitivity, a surgical gum graft can be performed to cover exposed roots and root canals remove tooth nerves entirely.


Remember, tooth pain can be an early warning sign of more severe oral health issues. If you’re experiencing tooth pain, please schedule an appointment. Our dental staff are skilled at identifying the causes of tooth sensitivity and are happy to discuss treatment options with you.

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We serve the entire St. Croix Valley, including St. Croix Falls, Taylors Falls, Osceola, Turtle Lake & Grantsburg areas. Our full service dental clinic can still ensure you have the best dental hygiene possible. New patients are always welcome, so come visit us today to discuss your options. You’ll see for yourself why patient satisfaction is so high. Our friendly staff are more than happy to help!

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