If you feel hesitant while gulping a hot cup of coffee or having a spoonful of ice cream, and if you fear the feeling of sudden pain in your teeth when ingesting those types of foods, you might be suffering from what is known as tooth sensitivity. At the same time, you may also be wondering and asking “What causes sensitive teeth all of a sudden?”

According to the medical dictionary, dentin hypersensitivity or tooth sensitivity is a sharp and sudden pain in teeth as a response to specific stimuli. The most common stimuli are hot or cold food items and beverages, cold air, acidic or sweet food and drinks, brushing or flossing, and alcohol-based mouth rinses.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth All of a Sudden?

There are several culprits behind teeth sensitivity, and the cause is often related to underlying problems with the teeth, so in order to understand those, we must understand the structure of the teeth.

Scientifically speaking, the tooth is covered by a thick white layer called enamel. The tooth is embedded in the gum, and the gum line contains tooth roots, which are protected by cementum. The last layer called dentin lies beneath the enamel and cementum.

With that in mind, here are the common causes of sudden teeth sensitivity:

1. Enamel Destruction

The teeth contain many nerves which send signals to the brain, and the enamel is its first line of defense. If for any reason the enamel doesn’t remain intact, the stimuli directly attack these nerves as well as the cells of the tooth. This is what causes sudden teeth sensitivity and makes your teeth twinge.

Unfortunately, there are few oral hygiene habits or practices that can deteriorate the enamel, and they are:

  • Excessive brushing more than twice a day
  • Use of hard-bristled brush
  • Soda, alcohol, and sugary beverages and food items
  • Continuous bleach floss for teeth whitening lead to the enamel-less teeth
  • Over grinding and clenching of teeth when stressed or angry

2. Cavities

Other than enamel destruction, there are various other factors that can cause teeth sensitivity, and one of them is tooth decay. Teeth sensitivity can be a major symptom if you are having a teeth cavity.

Tooth decay or cavity starts from a hole in your tooth, and what is unfortunate is that it is difficult to diagnose the cavities initially. It is one of the most common health problems in the world, but once the cavity is diagnosed, the dentist can immediately apply proper treatment.

3. Fractured Teeth

Fractured or cracked teeth can be one of the underlying causes of teeth sensitivity. In such a case, the allergic agents from food and beverages can directly enter and attack the root of the teeth. However, the pain induced from it will be localized.

4. Worn Fillings

The cavities or tooth decay can irritate the tooth and filling procedure. This may lead to further sensitivity, but the fillings are said to self-improve in one week or two.

5. Receding Gums

Sometimes, neither enamel destruction nor an external stimulus induces the sharp pain in teeth as teeth sensitivity is said to be an age factor too. Dentists propose that gums start to shrink naturally after the age of 40, causing a natural depression in the gum line. The depression can make the teeth hypersensitive to cold, hot, and sweet food and beverages.

6. Gum Disease

Improper oral hygiene is capable of giving room to plaque and tartar on the gum line. The plaque and tartar eventually destroy the enamel, leading to teeth sensitivity.

Other than staining the teeth and developing a bad breath, smoking is one factor that can aggravate teeth sensitivity. Smokers are capable of acquiring the dentin hypersensitivity four times quicker than the nonsmokers. Smoking material accumulates plaque, tartar, and germs on the gum line; hence, causing inflammation of the gums. Chain smoking can lead to tooth loss and eventually mouth cancer.

7. Exposed Tooth Root

The root of teeth can be exposed to external stimuli easily. Any case that can destroy the enamel exposes the roots. Hence, exposed tooth root causes teeth sensitivity.

8. Gingivitis

When a film of plaque or bacteria causes inflammation of the gums, such a situation is called gingivitis, which causes red teeth and swollen gums that are prone to bleeding easily. The non-plaque induced gingival lesions are a type of gingivitis that can be caused by a specific bacterium, virus, or fungus. If not treated properly, then puffy plaque film forms around the gums and can turn into yellow calculus films.

9. Gastro-esophageal Reflux

Gastro-esophageal reflux or GERD is a digestive condition in which acid from the gut cavity destroys the enamel and causes teeth sensitivity. Basically, GERD is the disorder in which stomach content returns to the esophagus.

In most of the cases, teeth sensitivity is the prime symptom of GERD. The saliva present in our mouths tends to neutralize the acidity of food material, but in the case of GERD, saliva doesn’t work properly.

Since the saliva is not capable of neutralizing the constant presence of acid during the GERD disorder, the teeth are exposed to acid, causing the enamel to erode. As the enamel erodes, teeth become sensitive to temperature and spices.


Improper oral hygiene and practices are the leading causes that can make you lose your teeth and can make you look terrible, and finding a good dentist is a crucial step in such a situation. Most of the doctors recommend using low abrasion toothbrushes, as well as the adequate use of fluoride or fluoride-containing toothpaste since it tends to protect the enamel and helps your teeth shine. You should also keep a check on your brushing and flossing routine.

One of the common problems that people face is dentin hypersensitivity or teeth sensitivity. Most people often think that this is not a serious case, but when you look at what causes sensitive teeth all of a sudden, you would know that it can just be a symptom of serious oral health issues. In such cases, you should consult doctors as soon as possible.

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