Why are my teeth sensitive?

Go for regular dental checkups for good oral health. / File

Dear Doctor,
I feel sensitivity every time I take a cold drink. I’ve never had issues with my teeth but a cold drink really irritates my teeth. Do I need a check up? What could be the issue? Allan

Dear Allan,



When health, sensitivity does not occur with the teeth or gums. However, when the dental enamel is battered, sensitivity over the teeth begins. Recession of the gums exposes the teeth to acid or other irritants, causing sensitivity.


Poor dental hygiene is the most common cause of teeth sensitivity and decay. Due to poor dental hygiene, residual food particles tend to stick on and around the base of teeth. These food particles cause plaques to build up. Bacteria grow and multiply in these plaques. Bacterial breakdown of food particles leads to formation of acid which corrodes the dental enamel. People who take sugar/sugary foods and drinks are more prone to this as this causes sensitivity of the teeth and gum. As the gums become sensitive, cold or hot drinks, spicy hot food may hurt the gums and teeth.


Tooth brushes with worn out or hard bristles also affect dental hygiene. The teeth are not cleaned properly by using them and this causes corrosion of the dental enamel. Broken dental fillings, misaligned teeth, can also cause repeated dental infections and erosion, which can cause hypersensitivity of teeth. Gaps between the teeth allow food particles to stick there and become difficult to clean very well. Frequent tooth picking can result in gaps between the teeth, making them vulnerable to frequent infections and erosion of the enamel.

Dental sensitivity can be prevented by improving dental hygiene. One should brush teeth after eating. If that is not possible, then a minimum of two times should be respected. Brushing the teeth, once in the morning, then before sleeping at night, should be a routine. Adequate rinsing of the mouth after eating with enough water, or preferably with some antiseptic mouth wash, is useful. The brush should not be hard. If bristles start getting worn out, it should be replaced. Toothpaste is available in stores which helps in soothing sensitivity.

Sugary drinks should be avoided. Similarly, very hot or cold drinks need to be avoided.

If needed, one can get the teeth cleaned by a dental expert. A specialist can help in correcting the underlying cause of enamel erosion or gum recession, the conditions that cause sensitivity.

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