Why are our teeth sensitive to pain?

dents sensibles à la douleur

You have probably already suffered from a toothache in your life, so you know that it can cause unbearable pain. Indeed, teeth are not considered as an organ but as tools, which only feel pain. It is therefore important to understand the causes in order to be able to suffer less on a daily basis.

Here is a guide that will help you understand why our teeth are sensitive to pain

The composition of your teeth

The tooth is composed of 3 layers; the hard white enamel, the dentin and the pulp. Enamel is the outermost layer, it is insensitive to pain because it is not alive. The dentin (middle layer) contains fluids. The pulp is the part of the tooth that is full of nerves and blood vessels, and it is where most of the pain comes from.

What is dental pain ?

Dental pain is a process resulting from a defense system that aims to protect the tooth. It is a kind of warning signal. It is sometimes easy to identify the cause of dental pain on your own, for example following a shock or contact with food that is too hot or too cold. But sometimes, the exact interpretation of the pain can only be done by a dentist. Whether it is because of the temperature of a food, or if it is a tooth that is worn in a certain place, the pain pushes you not to use this tooth to try to protect it as well as possible. So it's a protective mechanism. If the tooth did not signal the "danger" by the pain, there would be a strong chance that you would continue to use it normally. However, in the adult human, it is necessary to limit the loss of a tooth, because it is irreversible! Moreover, the tooth being made up of 3 layers, the pain is only felt in one layer: the pulp of the tooth.

Symptoms of tooth sensitivity

The most obvious symptom of sensitive teeth is severe pain when your teeth come into contact with food or drink. The level of pain you will experience will vary depending on the severity of your tooth sensitivity and the food or drink consumed. It is important to know that substances known to cause tooth sensitivity are hot, cold, sweet, acidic or alcoholic foods and drinks. You may also find that your symptoms occur for no apparent reason, but also that the intensity of the pain can get better or worse at any time.

Reasons for tooth sensitivity

Gum recession

Healthy gums are essential for healthy teeth. If the gums recede, the dentin can be exposed. This is called gum recession, or receding teeth, when the root of the tooth becomes particularly visible, making the teeth sensitive.

Other signs of gum recession include

  • Longer teeth: teeth appear to be much longer than normal.
  • Loose teeth: you may notice tooth mobility, which is attributed to bacteria under the gums that surround the teeth.
  • Misaligned teeth: your teeth overlap or there is a gap between your teeth.

 
Enamel wear


Enamel is a hard, outer surface of the tooth that protects the dentin. Over time, if tooth enamel wears away, the dentin is exposed, resulting in dentin sensitivity. As a result, thinning of the tooth enamel can be seen.

Other signs of tooth enamel wear include 

  • Brushing too hard: brushing your teeth too hard and usually with a hard-bristled toothbrush damages the teeth.
  • Acid erosion: Acidic foods and drinks can weaken and erode tooth enamel, exposing the dentin.
  • Tooth grinding or bruxism: a rhythmic clenching of the jaws will cause the teeth muscles to contract too much.

Solutions to remedy tooth sensitivity

  • A mixture of ginger and cayenne pepper: The compounds in ginger help to reduce gum inflammation: gingerols, shogaols and paradols. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin which acts on the neurotransmitter that triggers pain. The process is simple: soak a pad with a paste made from ginger powder, cayenne pepper and a little water. Then place the pad on your teeth.

  • Use a toothpaste that is suitable for sensitive teeth: Skip your favorite mint-flavored toothpaste and look for a much milder one. For example, you can opt for a toothpaste containing potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These help to keep pain stimuli away from the nerves. You need to use them for at least two weeks before you can see any improvement.


You can also use a toothpaste tube with Y-Brush fluoride. This is a toothpaste specially designed for fragile and sensitive gums. It contains Decyl Glucoside and Sodium Hydroxide which are PH regulators of the mouth as well as hydrated silica which takes care of your mouth. 

Tips to prevent tooth sensitivity

  • Avoid consuming drinks that are too hot or too cold: If your teeth are very sensitive, you can avoid consuming very hot and very cold foods. In any case, it is best to avoid eating or drinking too hot or too cold when it comes to tooth sensitivity. For example, let tea cool down for a few more minutes or avoid ice cubes in your drink. It is also important to avoid eating ice cream.

  • Stop eating too much sugar: Sugar is a particularly bad food for teeth. Indeed, sweets and sweetened drinks promote bacterial growth. They also promote the formation of dental plaque and are the main cause of tooth decay. Sugar feeds bacteria, and bacteria can damage your teeth by producing acids that weaken enamel.

We hope that you have a better understanding of what dental pain is. We hope that you will be able to spot all the symptoms of tooth sensitivity but also understand that you need to take special care of your tooth enamel and gums. All the solutions and tips we have given you regarding diet, toothpaste and miracle cures will undoubtedly be of great help to you. 

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