What Causes Tooth Sensitivity Without Cavities?

Posted on: July 9, 2024 | Blog

If your teeth are especially sensitive, you might wonder what the cause is. Your first thought might be a cavity. However, there are many things that can cause tooth sensitivity without cavities. Let’s explore some of these issues.

Tooth Sensitivity vs Toothaches

It’s important to note that tooth sensitivity is different from a toothache. Tooth sensitivity refers to a particular reaction to heat, cold, or sometimes touch. You might feel a sudden, sharp pain when your teeth touch cold or hot foods or drinks. Generally, the pain dissipates quickly and doesn’t linger. A toothache, however, is usually a steady pain that lingers, and isn’t triggered by particular foods. In some cases, you might experience both tooth sensitivity and a toothache.

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What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Girl touching face in tooth pain

Tooth sensitivity might arise from many different situations, which we’ll discuss in more detail. However, these situations generally share a few common features. Though it isn’t completely clear what causes tooth sensitivity, many experts believe the hydrodynamic theory explains tooth sensitivity. According to this theory, when your tooth enamel weakens, it exposes the dentin in your tooth. Inside the dentin are small tubules. When fluid moves through these tubules, it triggers a nerve response, which is a sharp, sudden pain.

Usually, your tooth enamel completely covers your tooth, which prevents contact with the tubules inside the dentin. However, if your enamel is weak, it can expose the dentin and tubules. So, tooth sensitivity is more likely to occur if your enamel is weak or damaged.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity Without Cavities?

Cavities are one cause of tooth sensitivity, but they are certainly not the only cause. Here are a few of the other common causes of tooth sensitivity.

Receding Gums

In some cases, you might notice your gums pulling away from your teeth to a small degree. Though this might not be immediately visible, it can cause tooth sensitivity. If your gums pull away from your teeth, it can expose the dentin and tubules, which can then cause sensitivity.

Many different things can cause receding gums. Gum disease and teeth grinding are two of the main causes of receding gums. Regular brushing and flossing, and using a mouth guard to soften teeth grinding can help to prevent receding gums.

Hard Brushing

prevent cavitiesBrushing your teeth too hard or using a toothbrush with hard bristles can also cause tooth sensitivity. Brushing too hard can wear down your tooth enamel, which can expose your dentin and the nerves beneath. If hard brushing is causing tooth sensitivity, you may notice sensitivity across more of your teeth. Using a soft-bristled brush or consciously brushing your teeth more gently can help.

Teeth Grinding

As previously mentioned, grinding your teeth can cause tooth recession, which can cause tooth sensitivity. Teeth grinding can also wear down your tooth enamel, or even cause your teeth to chip or crack. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, often occurs at night, and you might not notice you’re doing it. A mouthguard can help protect your teeth at night and reduce the effects of bruxism.

Acid Reflux

Chronic acid reflux introduces teeth to stomach acid, which can quickly wear down tooth enamel. Managing acid reflux can be difficult, but can have multiple health benefits. Identifying which foods worsen acid reflux, finding the right medication, and talking with your doctor can be helpful.

Tooth Damage

If your tooth is chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged, this can cause tooth sensitivity as well as a toothache. Damage to your teeth exposes the dentin and nerves, even if your tooth enamel is healthy. Depending on the level of damage, a chipped or cracked tooth can be very painful. You may need to contact your dentist for same-day dental services to protect your tooth.

Tooth sensitivity can be caused by many different things. Even if you are sure you don’t have a cavity, you should visit your dentist to find out what might be causing tooth sensitivity. In the meantime, brush regularly, but gently, manage your acid reflux, and use a mouthguard if you’re experiencing teeth grinding. If you live in the Las Vegas or Henderson area and you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, contact BDG today to make an appointment.


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