School of Dentistry

What are the causes, symptoms and treatments for tooth sensitivity

Woman with oral discomfort (in pain)


Tooth sensitivity is a common issue our providers address with patients at the UT Dentistry General Dentistry clinic. Several factors contribute to this discomfort, ranging from gum recession to dietary habits. We talked with Eddie M. Cortez, DDS, an expert provider in the General Dentistry clinic, to ask about the primary causes of tooth sensitivity and for advice on prevention and treatment.

Watch his video from the Ask the Dentist series on YouTube, “What are the causes, symptoms and treatments for tooth sensitivity?”, or read some highlights from the video below. 

What are the common causes of tooth sensitivity?

  1. Gum Recession and Disease: Exposure of tooth roots due to receding gums or gum disease can lead to sensitivity.
  2. Teeth Grinding and Clenching: Grinding and clenching teeth, often during sleep, wears down enamel and causes gum recession.
  3. Plaque Accumulation: Poor oral hygiene results in plaque build-up around gums, leading to irritation and sensitivity.
  4. Acidic Foods and Drinks: Consuming acidic items like fruit juices and pickles erodes enamel over time, increasing sensitivity.
  5. Dental Procedures: Treatments such as teeth bleaching can temporarily increase sensitivity.
  6. Cracked Teeth or Decayed Fillings: Cracks or decayed fillings allow bacteria in, causing significant pain and sensitivity.

Are there preventive measures and treatments?

  1. Proper Brushing Techniques: Brush in a circular motion with a soft-bristled brush to prevent enamel wear.
  2. Desensitizing Toothpaste: Use a toothpaste like Sensodyne or Pro-Enamel to relieve mild sensitivity.
  3. Dietary Adjustments: Limit acidic foods and drinks and rinse your mouth with water after consuming them.
  4. Occlusal Guards: Custom-made mouthguards protect teeth from damage caused by grinding or clenching.

Seeking Professional Help

Persistent sensitivity may indicate underlying conditions like decay, cracks, or severe gum recession. "If you have discomfort lasting 2 or 3 days when you bite down or drink something cold, seek a dentist because that's most important," states Cortez. Regular dental visits and good oral hygiene are key to maintaining healthy, pain-free teeth.

Whether you are experiencing tooth sensitivity or it is time for your routine dental checkup, contact the General Dentistry Clinic at 210-567-6453 or visit to request an appointment.


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