Causes of Sensitivity
















What Causes



Tooth enamel is the hard, outer surface of the teeth. Although it is harder than any other substance in the body, over time it can gradually wear away, or erode, and expose the softer dentine beneath, which may lead to tooth sensitivity. There are several reasons your enamel can wear away, from the way you brush your teeth to your food and drink choices.

What is Enamel Wear?


Here we look at the most common causes of tooth enamel wear:

  • Brushing too hard – If you brush too frequently and too hard, eventually it can lead to loss of enamel and you can also develop receding gums.3
  • Acid erosion of teeth – This is caused by the acids contained in many everyday foods and drinks, such as fizzy drinks, fruit, fruit juice and wine. When acidic food or drink comes into contact with teeth, it can temporarily soften the outermost layer of hard enamel. If you brush your teeth straight after consuming acidic food and drink, this softened layer of enamel can be more easily removed. If this happens frequently it can lead to tooth enamel erosion.4


If you are concerned about enamel loss you should discuss it with your dentist to get advice on how to manage tooth enamel erosion and any resulting tooth sensitivity.
In the meantime, here are a few suggestions and steps you can take to help take care of your tooth enamel:5

  • Use a specialist toothpaste that helps prevent enamel wear to help limit enamel erosion, which helps minerals in its formulation to penetrate deep into the enamel surface, actively strengthening weakened enamel, making it stronger, healthier and better protected against the effects of everyday acids.
  • Cut down on the amount of acidic food and drink, particularly fizzy drinks; reduce the amount and frequency throughout the day.
  • Wait for at least an hour after eating or drinking acidic food and drink before brushing your teeth.6 Acidic food and drink can temporarily soften enamel, but if you wait a while before brushing, your saliva is a buffer and neutralizes the acid effects, helping to prevent enamel loss when you brush your teeth.
  • Don’t brush too hard. Use a soft-to medium-bristled brush, which is designed to protect tooth enamel.

Sticking to a good oral health routine, including regular visits to your dentist, is the best way to protect against acid erosion on teeth and tooth sensitivity.

1Addy M, Smith S R. Dentin hypersensitivity: an overview on which to base tubule occlusion as a management concept. J Clin Dent. 2010: 21(2) [Spec Iss]; 25-30.
2Bassiouny M. Effects of common beverages on the development of cervical erosion lesions. General Dentistry. 2009; 57 (3): 212-223.
3Johnson, J. (n.d.). Gum Recession: Causes and Treatments. [Online] Johnson Dental Associates. Available at:
4Koulourides T, Phantumvanit P, Munksgaard EC, Housch T. An intraoral model used for studies of fluoride incorporation in enamel. J Oral Pathol. 1974; 3(4):185-196.
5Oral Health Foundation. 2018. Sensitive Teeth. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 November 2019].
6Mark, A. (2018). What is dental erosion?. The Journal of the American Dental Association, [online] 149(6), p.564. Available at: