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01952 460119Park Street, Shifnal, Shropshire, Near Telford, TF11 9BG


Sensitive Teeth

Teeth can become sensitive for many reasons, the most common being that the enamel that covers the teeth has begun to erode. When this enamel wears away, the dentin underneath becomes exposed. Small tunnels inside the tooth that link the dentin to the nerves are easily stimulated when the enamel wears away, resulting in pain and sensitivity. You may feel pain or discomfort when consuming hot or cold food and drinks, or breathing in cold air. Sensitive teeth can be an early indication of tooth wear.

Approximately 29% of people in the UK suffer from regular dental pain including sensitivity – but what can be done about it? Statistics produced in 2013 suggested tooth wear is increasing year on year in the UK – potentially due to modern lifestyles and dental health.

People of any age can suffer with sensitive teeth, and there are many reasons why your teeth may be sensitive, but it’s important to visit your dentist if your teeth continue to feel sensitive for a long period, or your sensitivity increases.


The most common causes of sensitivity are:

  • Worn tooth enamel – using a hard toothbrush or brushing too hard.
  • Tooth erosion caused by highly acidic foods and beverages.
  • Tooth decay, worn fillings and broken teeth – these expose the dentin of your tooth, making them more sensitive.
  • Gum disease – causes your gums to recede and leaves your tooth’s root surface exposed.
  • Grinding your teeth at night.
  • Post dental treatment – temporary sensitivity can be caused by procedures such as crowns, fillings and tooth bleaching.

Modern Life

Modern lifestyles also have a huge effect on our teeth, and there are many factors linked to this that can increase teeth sensitivity. The effects of smoking on our health are well documented – it can lead to various forms of cancer and respiratory diseases. When it comes to our teeth, smoking causes severe discolouration, and often leads to gum disease, which in turn causes tooth sensitivity.

Another aspect of modern life causing dental problems for adults and children alike is our sugar intake – sugary food and drinks are more readily available now than ever before, with the confectionery market set to be worth £6.64 billion by 2019. Foods containing high amounts of sugar can also contain fermentable carbohydrates, which when combined with the bacteria in our mouths form acid, which in turn erodes the enamel of our teeth. Additionally, your teeth may be come sensitive to sugar itself, often because of brushing your teeth too hard or consuming highly acidic food and drink.


The pain caused by sensitive teeth can range from small twinges to severe discomfort that can remain for several hours. If you suffer with the latter, it may be a sign of more serious dental problems, and you should visit your dentist.

Tooth sensitivity can make enjoying your favourite food more difficult, as cold food in particular, such as ice cream, causes discomfort. Some people who suffer from sensitive teeth also experience pain when they consume sweet or acidic food and drinks.


There are several desensitising products on the market, including toothpastes specifically for people with sensitive teeth which are designed to keep teeth clean without causing further irritation to your tooth enamel. These products contain fluoride which prevents tooth decay, and should be used twice a day to brush your teeth. It can take several weeks for the product to take effect, and you should continue to use the product even after your sensitivity has improved, to keep it at bay. Your dentist will be able to recommend a suitable product for your needs.

If it’s your lifestyle that is causing your teeth to be sensitive, then consider changing your diet by substituting foods high in sugar with fruits and vegetables. If smoking is causing you to have gum disease and therefore making your teeth sensitive, try to quit or at least cut down the amount you smoke. Unfortunately, a lot of the damage caused by smoking is irreversible, but you can help your teeth by taking better care of them, and can handle the sensitivity with desensitising products.

Additionally, good oral health will help your sensitivity – brush your teeth twice a day, replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months, and try to reduce the amount of sugary foods and fizzy or acidic drinks you consume.

By visiting Shifnal Dental Care, we will be able to identify the cause for your sensitivity, and offer a solution. This could be the replacement of a filling if your tooth is decayed, or recommending a mouth guard to wear at night if you grind your teeth.

If you’re interested in seeing a dentist about your sensitivity, book a free consultation with Katherine, who will help you find the best treatment for you.

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