Tooth sensitivity is caused by nerve irritation after your protective enamel coat has been worn down by various causes. Your dentin (the layer under the enamel) contains tiny tubules that lead up to nerve endings. Exposing these tubules makes you more prone to irritate your nerves underneath. If you feel pain when your teeth are exposed to very hot or cold foods or air or acidic foods, you may have tooth sensitivity. Below are four issues that could be causing it and how you can resolve them:

1. Over-brushing

Using a toothbrush with hard bristles or brushing very hard can wear down your teeth's enamel, exposing the hollow tubules in your dentin. When acidic or sticky foods or overly hot/cold foods hit this layer, your teeth may feel irritated.

This can be easily resolved by changing your toothbrush to a soft-bristled one and brushing gently but thoroughly. Choose a brush with soft, but multi-angled bristles to reach all places in your mouth and eliminate all plaque and food particles with minimal brushing force. Use up-down rather than side-to-side motion; the former provides effective cleaning, the latter just wears down your enamel without removing all the dirt.

2. Indulging in acidic foods

If your nerve tubules are exposed, eating acidic foods can cause pain and irritation in your teeth. Consuming acidic foods/drinks regularly also wears down the enamel in a process called acid erosion, causing sensitivity. Drink some water after eating foods that contain any acid, like fruits, wines, fizzy drinks and even beverages like coffee. This washes down the acid to prevent continued damage to enamel. However, do not brush immediately, because the enamel is weaker and can be worn down easily at this time. Wait for about 30 minutes before brushing to allow it to re-harden.

3. Grinding teeth

Tooth-grinding is a serious nervous tick that wears enamel on your tooth surface, especially if carried on for a long time. If you're prone to grinding your teeth, consult your dentist about getting a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect your teeth. If you can't use a mouthguard, consider alternative treatment options like therapy and stress reduction to treat the cause of anxiety-related grinding.

4. Using tooth-whitening toothpaste

Tooth whitening toothpastes include chemicals like bleaching agents, which certain people are more sensitive to than others. If your sensitivity does not resolve after rectifying the above problems(that are relevant to you) try to change your toothpaste for a while to see the results. The same applies to people who use tartar-controlling toothpaste, which contains sodium pyrophosphate that can increase sensitivity.

Choose a toothpaste which simply can remove stains without bleaching, and instead schedule regular tooth-cleaning and whitening procedure with your dentist to safely keep your smile white and bright.

If you follow the advice above and still have sensitive teeth, speak with your dentist about what may be the problem and what you can do about it.