Why Do My Teeth Feel Sensitive? a Dentist Explains

Man in pain

Winter is upon us! The colder months bring fun holidays, great food, and hot drinks. Have you taken a sip of your favorite pumpkin spice latte or hot cocoa and been rudely greeted with a tingling pain in your teeth? You could have tooth sensitivity, which can be tough to deal with in the winter with all the hot seasonal fare. Read on to learn what causes tooth sensitivity and how to avoid it from your local dentist.


The most common cause of tooth sensitivity is enamel erosion. This is when the outside protective layer of your teeth (the enamel) has been worn away. Enamel erosion can be caused by:

  • Consuming acidic foods and beverages
  • Eating too much sugar and sweets
  • Brushing your teeth too hard
  • Grinding your teeth

Your enamel protects the inside of your tooth (dentin), which contains sensitive nerve endings. Once these nerve endings are exposed, it makes your teeth sensitive to extremely hot or cold temperatures. That’s why your favorite hot drinks could be causing you discomfort.


There are a handful of steps you can take to give yourself some relief from tooth sensitivity as well as prevent it in the future:

  • Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush, angling it at 45-degrees to scrub your gum line and teeth of bacteria. Don’t scrub too hard, but think of brushing more like massaging your teeth.
  • Try to limit your intake of acidic foods and beverages. If you do decide to drink something acidic like soda, you can use a straw to minimize the drink’s contact with your teeth.
  • Try to pinpoint certain foods or drinks that cause sensitivity. If you figure out coffee is an instigator of sensitivity, avoid drinking coffee, and see if your teeth feel better overall.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste (there’s even some out there formulated for sensitive teeth) and drink water with fluoride to strengthen your enamel.
  • See your dentist regularly to stay on top of tooth decay.


Sometimes tooth sensitivity can occur for reasons like a cracked tooth, a loose filling, or a crown. These issues cause sensitivity because the inside of your tooth with all the little nerve endings is exposed. Your dentist can fix cracked teeth and replace your crown or filling to protect them and curb sensitivity.

Your dentist will also provide advice for your specific smile on how to avoid sensitivity in the future. After examining and cleaning your teeth, he or she will have a better idea of the main cause of your discomfort.

Now that you know the causes of tooth sensitivity and how to avoid it, you’re ready for the colder weather and all the hot beverages that come with it!


Dr. Hector Carlos Tijerina is a proud Austinite that loves caring for patients in his community. He likes getting to know his patients and educating them on how to keep their smiles looking and feeling healthy. He currently practices at Parkfield Family Dental where he can be contacted through his website or by phone at (512) 213-6778 for any questions.