Causes of painful teeth
Sensitive teeth usually result from erosion of the enamel - the outer layer of the tooth - or from receding gums.
These processes expose the underlying dentin, the tooth bone. Thousands of microscopic fibres called dentinal tubules run through the dentin and lead to the centre of the tooth where the dental nerves are located. These fibres register the temperature stimuli that damage the tooth nerve over a long period, causing pain.
This can happen simply by using the wrong toothbrushing technique. That is, by strongly pressing on or scrubbing the toothbrush or by using a strongly abrasive toothpaste. But other causes that lead to stomach acid getting into the mouth can also cause erosion of the tooth enamel. This also applies to the excessive consumption of acidic foods and drinks.
However, tooth pain can also be caused by other issues, such as cracked teeth, a worn filling or gum disease.
Teeth sensitive to cold
If the tooth is particularly sensitive to cold and heat, it usually has to do with the canals described in the previous section. Pain stimuli triggered by cold or heat can run through the exposed canals, stimulate the nerve and thus cause short, sharp pain in the affected teeth. In extreme cases, the teeth are even sensitive to a brief touch.
Exposed tooth necks
Normally, only the crown of the tooth is visible. If this is not the case, it is a case of exposed necks of teeth, which can lead to constant pain and hypersensitivity. In this case, treatment is usually unavoidable.
The crown of the tooth is protected by hard enamel, which does not allow external stimuli such as heat or cold to pass through. Underneath the hard enamel comes the dentin. If the protective layer is damaged, this can lead to a tooth that is sensitive to pain.
Exposed tooth necks are often caused by periodontitis. This is when the health of the teeth is attacked by poor oral hygiene and bacteria. This eventually leads to inflammation of the periodontium. The consequences are swelling and redness of the gums. As a result, the tissue retreats from the necks of the teeth, which can lead to sensitive teeth.
The reason for this is tooth erosion. The main factors here are also the wrong brushing technique when brushing teeth, toothpastes that are too abrasive or acidic drinks (acid-induced tooth enamel erosion).
Teeth that are very sensitive to pain after tooth cleaning can also indicate an incorrect brushing technique. In our article on teeth cleaning, you can find out how to brush your teeth properly to avoid sensitive teeth.
Sensitive teeth due to tooth decay
Pain can also be caused by advanced tooth decay when it has already bored deep into the tooth. Teeth grinding or poor oral hygiene can also cause exposed necks of teeth.
Under the tooth crown and adamantine, the dentin is also not exposed but is surrounded by the gums. If the cause of tooth sensitivity is receding gums (gum recession), this is either due to incorrect brushing technique when brushing or incorrect stress on the teeth.
Gingival recession can also be the result of periodontitis. In this case, inflammation of the periodontium causes bacterial plaque to build up, causing the gums to recede.
When plaque and tartar on the teeth cause the gums to recede, it can destroy the bony support of the tooth and cause pain. To treat gum disease, your dentist may perform a deep cleaning of the teeth called abrasion or scaling, which removes tartar and plaque below the gum line.