Do you feel a sharp and intensely unpleasant sensation in your teeth when consuming hot or cold foods and drinks? This is referred to as tooth sensitivity. The only time sensitivity should be normal is after a dental procedure such as teeth whitening or root canal treatment. If you haven't undergone any dental treatment, tooth sensitivity signals a dental health problem. You should seek immediate treatment to avoid worsening the condition. With this in mind, check out these four likely reasons you have sensitive teeth.

Tooth decay

Tooth decay occurs when harmful oral bacteria erode the enamel and make a hole in the tooth, causing a cavity. As bacteria continue to erode the enamel, they expose the inner tissues of the tooth, including the roots and nerves. Therefore, when you consume hot or cold foods, you will feel a sharp pain. Exposed nerves may cause sensitivity even when cold air hits the tooth. You should treat the affected tooth to fix the sensitivity and protect your natural teeth from severe decay.

Teeth grinding at night

Do you grind your teeth or clench your jaw when sleeping? Habitual teeth grinding or bruxism exerts pressure on the enamel and causes it to wear out. Prolonged grinding of the teeth can expose the dentine, the layer of the tooth beneath the enamel. The dentine has tubules connected to the nerves inside the tooth. Therefore, when the exposed dentine comes into contact with hot and cold foods, you will experience sensitivity. If you have bruxism, ask your dentist for a night mouth guard to curb the behaviour and protect your enamel from wear.

Chipped or broken tooth

Facial injuries and biting on hard foods and substances can leave you with a cracked tooth. Small chips and cracks on the teeth can go unnoticed, especially if they are on the molars and premolars. Unfortunately, a chip in the tooth exposes the inner layers and the nerves to stimuli. Therefore, when you consume hot or cold foods, you will experience sensitivity. Cracks can also allow bacteria to access the inner layers of the tooth, increasing the risk of infection and decay. Luckily, you can restore your natural tooth with treatments such as veneers, crowns and dental bonding.

Gum recession

Gum disease and tooth grinding are the leading causes of gum recession. These conditions cause the gum tissue that surrounds the enamel to pull back, exposing the roots. Since roots respond to stimuli, your teeth will feel sensitive when you consume hot or cold foods. Unfortunately, if you don't treat gum recession, it can lead to tooth loss. Therefore, you should seek treatment to prevent it from worsening.

The above dental issues will worsen over time if left untreated. Schedule an appointment with a family dentist for treatment to resolve tooth sensitivity.