Signs of Sensitive Teeth

Written by cheryl starr
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Signs of Sensitive Teeth
Sensitive teeth can feel pain from one bite from a sweet treat. (iced cakes with bite image by Warren Millar from

Tooth sensitivity is known as "dentinal sensitivity." This happens when tooth enamel is worn, exposing the middle dentine layer of the tooth. Nerve branches lie within openings of the dentine that stem from within the nerve centre of the tooth and become sensitive. When these nerves are exposed to pressure or hot or cold temperatures, pain results. Pulpal sensitivity also is possible, which usually affects one tooth due to decay, a crack or a filling.

Cold Temperatures

Sharp pain suddenly shooting through the tooth when you drink or eat something cold, such as ice cream, watermelon, lemonade or cola, could be a sign of a sensitive tooth. This is the most common symptom for sensitive teeth. Cold drinks that have sugar could cause your tooth to ache more than cold drinks such as water or tea without sugar. Experiment with various drinks and foods carefully to discover if it is the cold temperature that causes the pain or if it is the sugar, so that you will have more efficient information to give your dentist.

Hot Temperatures

Pain shooting through your tooth when you drink hot temperatures could also be a sign of a sensitive tooth. This is a less common symptom for sensitive teeth, however still occurs. If your tooth is sensitive when you drink hot items, such as hot cocoa or hot tea with sugar, it could be the sugar that is causing the sensitivity and not the heat. Experiment with the hot drinks to determine which is the culprit and speak to your dentist. Sometimes sensitivity from hot temperatures indicates dying nerves within a tooth.


Pain and discomfort occurring in your teeth when you bite into sweets, suck on sugary foods or drink liquids that contain sugar, can indicate sensitive teeth. Biting into chocolate, pies, cookies, candy or allowing a mint, such as a peppermint, to brush up against a tooth could cause pain if that tooth is sensitive.


If pain occurs when you touch the tooth with your tongue, your toothbrush or your finger, then that is a probable sign that you have a sensitive tooth. Be gentle with the sensitive tooth while brushing and flossing. Speak with your dentist about the tooth. Allow the dentist to x-ray the tooth to find out if it has Dentinal Sensitivity or Pulpal Sensitivity.

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