Common Conditions

Why Are My Teeth Sensitive All of a Sudden?

My teeth have all of a sudden become very sensitive the past few days and I don't know why. They always feel like they are tingling and it hurts a lot. Do you know what could be causing this?

by Dr. Burhenne

Why Are My Teeth Sensitive All of a Sudden?
Q:

What could be the cause of sudden tooth sensitivity? My teeth have become very sensitive the past few days and I don't know why. They always feel like they are tingling and it hurts a lot. Do you know what could be causing this?

A: Although I don’t have enough information to give you a precise answer, I can give you some general advice that will be useful for all of us that, at one point in our lives, have suffered from tooth sensitivity or pain.

How to Identify the Cause of Sudden Tooth Sensitivity

When dentists and doctors go about diagnosing the source of pain, they use a method referred to as differential diagnosis, which is a systematic method used to identify unknowns, using the process of elimination.

So in your case, the first differential is this: Is the pain associated with all your teeth or just one tooth? Things that happen to a single tooth are typically singular events, such as a cavity or the need for a root canal or a cracked tooth. These are things that would not happen to all the teeth at the same time.

Then, by the process of elimination, we’ve eliminated the three possibilities above. Chances are that, because all your teeth have become suddenly sensitive, it is caused by something that is more global. For example, maybe you have just discovered a favorite new food and are eating it every day. This new food could be high in acid which, in a matter of a few days, could start making all of your teeth sensitive. Sudden changes in eating and other habits can cause this.

Another example of a more global causative factor in sensitive, tingling teeth would be a sudden increase in stress. For example, perhaps you just received word that a friend is gravely ill and your cortisol levels have increased. Increased cortisol levels stimulate grinding, or bruxism, which would definitely cause all of your teeth to all of the sudden become sensitive.

Another potential culprit is that you’ve just contracted a sinus infection and both your right and left sinuses are very infected and you’ve been blowing your nose a lot. Within a matter of days, all of your upper back teeth would become sore, painful and very sensitive to sudden motion and impact – such as walking or standing up.

It could also be a combination of global causative factors. For example, it could be the combination of the sudden interest in acidic food along with a change in the weather and cold ambient temperatures. Breathing in cold air after having consumed a lot of acidic foods would definitely make all your teeth tingle or ache. Or you could be whitening your teeth and drinking cold water afterward – another combination that could be the culprit.

I mention all of this just to give you a frame of mind with which to approach your symptoms. The best thing to do with this knowledge is to go see your dentist and to have a discussion about what has changed and what the source of this pain could be.

When you’re at the dentist, give him or her as many data points as possible. Think about what factors have changed recently and which ones have stayed the same to try to narrow down the cause of the sensitivity. This will help you attain the best diagnosis. But remember, sometimes to reach the best diagnosis, it is necessary to eliminate as many of the potential culprits as possible.

Mark Burhenne DDS

Photo courtesy of darrenfelgate

What other questions do you have about sensitive teeth? What’s been your experience with sensitive teeth? Let me know in the comments below — I read each and every one.

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Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS

54 Comments

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  1. I went to the dentist a month ago. I went in for a cleaning, amd he said that I had six cavities and he was going to go ahead and fill them. I thouvht he new best so I said yes. From that day on, I have lost six pounds because I can only eat food blended up and through a straw. I takle advil everyday, which is not good at all. All my teeth are extremely sensitive to hot or cold and the food has to be just right. Pain is so much that I have had swollen face and slurred speach. I have gone to see him three times to fix the pro lem, but he didnt even losten to me saying that all my teeth hurt all the time, crying when I brush my teeth, and now a swollen face. Nothing was wrong before I went in, no pain from cavities or anything else. I dont know what to.do, please advise.

    • You need to see another dentist. This exact thing happened to me with two of my teeth. I went to another dentist and he removed the fillings and found that mercury fillings were placed directly on my nerve. Causing severe psin and swelling. I soon lost both teeth and had to pay thousands for bridges.

    • After my dentist talking me into getting a couple cavities filled only to have one of the teeth fracture later, my motto is: if it doesn’t hurt, don’t fix it. Leave it alone. Try to improve your tooth health and hope that the cavities don’t get worse. Go to another dentist and get this problem sorted, and then don’t let them touch your teeth unless something hurts.

  2. I just had the same problem after taking antibiotics for 3 weeks for a sinus infection and tooth abcess at the same time. One nigh my whole mouth began to hurt so I went to the ER. I was told I probably had a fungal infection in the gums and mouth due to the antibiotics killing all the natural defenses in my mouth. I’m taking some medicine now for that and the pain has been relieved greatly, although not quite gone yet. I noticed the problem was more after I flossed than anything, but I still have to brush and floss –couldn’t go a day without doing that.

  3. I just had the same problem after taking antibiotics for 3 weeks for a sinus infection and tooth abcess at the same time. One night my whole mouth began to hurt so I went to the ER. I was told I probably had a fungal infection in the gums and mouth due to the antibiotics killing all the natural defenses in my mouth. I’m taking some medicine now for that and the pain has been relieved greatly, although not quite gone yet. I noticed the problem was more after I flossed than anything, but I still have to brush and floss –couldn’t go a day without doing that.

  4. I have been having pain teeth up and down that started suddenly about two 3 weeks ago,I was told by some friend that it could be that i have a heart problem.

  5. I have had mild discomfort when chewing for some time. I had a flu shot last week, have been on antibiotics for an unrelated issue, had a fever (103.7) last night. We have fever down, and today I am with constant pain in my mouth. Sometimes it feels like it is the upper right and then it seems to be lower right. Very sensitive to cold beverages. See Dr. or Dentist?

  6. I have been experiencing the same problem as you guys. For several days now. Three days ago I went to see the dentist. He radioed my teeth and said I have no problem with my teeth. He did not even give me any drug. I thought the pain will go but it’s not happening. Getting worse. Went to the gym as usual and I noticed that after the gym it got even worse. I am really suffering while I am writing these lines. Advil relieves me a little bit but I cannot continue taking same over several days. Please help me

  7. Both my wife and I experienced tooth pain in all of our teeth at the same time one day. We were staying at a Niagara Falls hotel with two of our kids. They had no issues. The only difference was that we both drank their coffeee from their buffet brekfast. Could it be a pot cleaner or the coffee or their water? It has stopped since then with no reoccurence.

  8. 3 days ago I developed pain in all my teeth, and now searching for causes, which brought me here. I can tell you what I use to alleviate the pain. MMS and DMSO. The first time I tried it was about a year ago in the Dominican Republic, where I learned a great deal about it. A very serious infection developed from a rotten tooth in my lower right jaw. I experienced a lot of pain and my cheek blew out like a chipmunk. I sprayed MMS on my toothbrush and added a few drops of DMSO on it, to help carry the activated MMS (Chlorine Dioxide)deeper into the root – DMSO has the innate ability to penetrate through membrane. Though I could have done more, I brushed my teeth with it a couple of times a day. The pain became tolerable soon after, and was completely gone in three days. Funny, this was a year ago, I still have that tooth, and no problems so far. Just waiting for a windfall to get it pulled out and get some work done,lol

  9. I had two crowns put on my teeth last week. This week the one tooth I had capped became very sensitive to hot or cold. Today the tooth is less sensitive than yesterday. I went to my dentist & she said after an xray that she couldn’t see anything wrong with the cap and suggested I go to a specialist for a root canal which costs $1000. I am questioning whether I need a root canal or not. Any comments on this would be appreciated.

  10. While appreciate the systematic approach the dentist suggested to discovering the etiology of having ALL of ones teeth become hyper sensitive, some disorders, diseases, etc. go beyond retracing ones steps as advised. I’m not certain about others but in my case, this issue is way beyond a slight sensitivity or mild pain. Honestly, every single tooth has hyper sensitive to both cold and air. Worse, even room temperature water sends me jumping about and holding my mouth as if wounded. It is now to the point, that even in speaking the slight air used in the production ne pronunciation of certain sounds is causing me to speak softly and carefully. I have some serious medical problems and discovered tht I hold my breath and sigh a greet deal which is equally painful. Eating is a delicate matter as well. I’ve found little on this subject save a number of protesters of the Crest Prohealth toothpaste (which I admit I too was using and their may be merit to some of those claims?) However, given that I have autonomic dysfunction and various neuropathy I am concerned that this might tie into the Trigeminal nerve as it does in TMN, TMJ, etc? Could the dentist possibly comment on other symptoms that might factor into this nerve branch being involved? Perhaps someone else has encountered these symptoms? I appreciate the attention and wish better health to all..

  11. Lately, in the past six months, all of my teeth have become sensitive to the point I don’t want to eat. And toothpaste for sensitive teeth has just made my teeth more sensitive. That doesn’t make sense but it’s true. I don’t have a new favorite food I eat all the time that is high is acidity or any of the above reasons. I have always had a lot of stress, and this has never happened, and at my last dental appointment, I mentioned it, and the answer I got was, “we all experience tooth sensitivity at one time or another in our lives.” It’s been ongoing in the last six months. So, I don’t know.

    • I’m experiencing the same thing. One tooth on the top left a couple back from the front in particular for the past few months. Had a regular cleaning and xrays and showed nothing wrong. The dentist said bone degeneration of the teeth and recession is happening but the past few days have been unbearable with pain on the left side of my face, now my front bottom teeth are sore today. I can’t drink cold or hot liquids. I’ve been using sensitive toothpaste and my health is excellent and my diet hasn’t become more acidic. It’s a frustrating mystery.

  12. All of my teeth have suddenly become very sensitive to cold, also when I floss I notice that my gums are sensitive to the touch. This is unacceptable because my only vice is ice cream. It does not feel like my sinuses are acting up. I have had some recent cortisone injections. Any idea what’s going on?

  13. Ive just had a partial pallet put in ( my old one was worn out ) and my teeth top and bottom on my right hand side have become sensitive why is this , when I went to my dentist for my 6 month check up they could not find anything wrong

  14. This post is SOOOO on point. I have a sinus infection and my upper back teeth are extremely sensitive and it is most evident when i walk! I thought something was terribly wrong with me! but then again i am a hypochondriac

  15. Two of my teeth suddenly just got sensitive and I know this might sound like the other person’s comment but it went away when I woke up and I’m kind of confused. One of my upper back teeth and upper front teeth started hurting when I touched them or moved them;I thought they were loose or something but I don’t think I feel anything now.

  16. My upper teeth feel like they are bruised and it causes me to have a pressure headache all the time. My dentist suggested that he file some of my teeth because he feels that my bite has shifted. My concern is that this filing will not work and then my good enamel will be gone and cause my teeth not to be protected. Any thoughts?

    • Pam, what your dentist is referring to is occlusal equilibration and it MAY solve the problem. Ask your dentist if you have a CR-CO discrepancy and if that’s what he would like to fix. It’s not a bad idea, although using Invisalign is the better method because it gets the teeth in the right place instead of trying to adjust them by removing enamel. Removing a little bit of enamel isn’t a bad thing, though.

      – Dr. B

  17. I have had this problem too. First the upper teeth on the left side suddenly became sensitive. Someone said it’s because I’m getting my wisdom tooth now. But it abated in a few days with some precautions. Later all the upper teeth on the right side became sensitive (starting exactly in the middle). I thought this would go away similarly in a few days. But it hasn’t. They are still sensitive, though not as much as before. Funnily, the lower teeth are all fine, except one in the middle. I used to drink hot beverages earlier, now I drink only luke-warm and eat ice-cream once in a while. I had braces at the age of 20 and had my teeth cleaned many times (could that be a reason for the sensitivity?). Does using Sensodyne regularly help or is it only a temporary relief measure?
    Thanks in advance for your answer, Doc!

  18. If you are facing this kind problem, it is best to seek immediate advice from a dentist before the problem worsens.

  19. Amazing information!! People will know very well how to identify the cause of sudden tooth sensitivity. I would like to thank to share this kind of effective information.

  20. Hello, I’ve been having problems with my teeth lately. When I went to fill in my cavities, I was only able to get one side for that day and had to wait 2 weeks for the other side to get filled in. However, my teeth have become sensitive (well they’re hurting) when I am just quiet and also when I eat/drink. I don’t understand why, and I asked my dentist. All he said was “it takes up to 6 weeks.” (like as if that helped) I don’t know what to do, and it’s almost a month I’ve dealt with the pain. Mostly at night before I brush my teeth, they start to hurt and I’m just quiet. I don’t understand.

    • Andrea, I’m sorry to hear this. Was it plastic or metal fillings? There are many reasons why teeth can hurt after you’ve had them filled with either metal or plastic. The most common reason is that the filling is too high when it’s placed – making the tooth cold sensitive about three or four days later – because the tooth is hitting too hard and doing too much of the biting force work and that makes the tissues inside the tooth ache. If you have cold sensitivity a few days after the filling, have your bite checked. It’s not necessarily the dentist’s fault, since when a patient is numb, they often don’t bite as they normally do, so it’s hard to know what the correct bite is at that time. A quick follow-up visit will solve that. Also, a strong acid etch is used when placing plastic fillings and the acid, if used too liberally, it can etch other tooth tissues nearby, and that will (for about a month or longer) make teeth sensitive to cold, sugar, and metal objects. Let me know if one of those describes what you’re experiencing.

  21. I started having sudden tooth pain about 2 days ago. But I’m not sure exactly what the cause is, since I have some oral piercings, one of which is occupied by a metal piece of jewelry and the other, plastic. I have had them for multiple years, but over the past 2 years, I have on more than one occasion, actually bitten down on the metal one, causing some teeth to get chipped. But about 6 months ago, I dealt with biting on it extremely hard and at first I thought I had cracked one of my teeth, but I haven’t been experiencing too much discomfort from it. Two days ago, I suddenly started having some pain in that particular tooth and within that first day, the rest of my teeth started hurting as well. There is no pain when I eat, drink, brush my teeth, or even suck in air through my mouth. The pain is there when there is no actual contact being made on any of my teeth. I cannot recall starting to regularly eat any specific food in particular. I’m not really sure what could be the cause of this all of a sudden. Any feedback would be helpful. I will be going to the dentist soon enough to hopefully get down to the bottom of this problem.

  22. I sudden have tooth sensitivity last week for hot food hair and sweett , I was eating red berry very sour, I went to DDS today and he
    took x ray and he explain me that I have infection in one tooth that is descended and i had to pull out, he gave me Amoxicillin 500 mg for 7 days to take 3 each day. I have to decide after i feel better
    and take another opinion. Please help me if it is right to do know
    Isabelle.

    [email protected]

  23. I think that my teeth are hurting when I chew because I fell asleep with a jolly rancher in my mouth and it was on the side of my teeth. Could you help me?

  24. 4 days ago a tooth on top left hand side of mouth began hurting. Was very sensitive to cold and heat. I could not tell if it was the wisdom tooth or one up next to it. I went to my dentist. She always has wanted to pull my wisdom teeth for no reason so I’ve never let her! So, of course, she says it is the wisdom tooth. But the exists showed nothing. I made an appointment in two weeks and came home because I did not want her to pull it because I doubted her expertise. This morning I woke up and it is a different tooth hurting! It is directly under on the bottom row! The tooth that hurts now is on the bottom left hand side and is a tooth that has a crown. It is extremely sensitive to heat and cd and even when I touch it. When I chew food it hurts to bite on that side. I am confused about my teeth and pain? I’m glad I didn’t have the top wisdom tooth pulled because it is not giving me any problems. I dont have dental insurance so I want to make some good decisions. I regularly visit a dentist every 6 months but my long time dentist just retired. The new one I go to I don’t really think she puts much into what she decides to do.

  25. I’m 22 years old and recently my right side teeth hurts almost all of them . last year l had one tooth removed it wz painful .l don’t want to have another removed .lf l eat or drink something sweet it hurts me .l have decided not to eat sweet things bt it still pains me .Sometimes l even have headaches if my teeth pains me

  26. My teeth at the lower part of my right jaw hurts since yesterday. I’ve never experienced any toothache in my 18 years of existence. Just this one, so I don’t have any idea of what is causes. But my mother says that maybe I have sensitive teeth. I just remember that for the past few days I drink lot of cold water after brushing my teeth and my mother said that drinking cold water after brushing my teeth is a wrongdoing. Is my mother correct? My teeth hurts that I can’t enjoy eating even my favorite food. If my mother was correct, is there some home remedies that may be help to treat this so called sensitive teeth of mine?

  27. i been having terrible problems with my teeth being sensitive to the point that i had two root canals already and they are not getting any better, also all my teeth were fine at first it all start when they change my old fillings for a new porcelain and my teeth start hurting me terribly, i had the old grey filling in one and the other ones were white but i didn’t had pain and now i can’t eat drink cold or hot, i am in so much pain that i have to take at least two Ibuprofen i need an answer if somebody can help please. a response will be very appreciated.

  28. Hiya.. I’ve had a small cavity filled 5 weeks ago and now my tooth is rather sensitive. I don’t think the filling is high because when I tap my teeth together and chew there’s no sensitivity yet the small area where the filling is, if I bite down on for example a pen I feel pain when I release the bite. I rang the dentist today and spoke to the receptionist who suggested I try a desensitizing toothpaste and if the sensitivity doesn’t subside in 10 days I should return and possibly require a root canal. I’m confused because the filling was very small no where even near the pulp and the dentist commended me for spotting the cavity. I’m rather OCD about dental care

  29. I started taking Levothyroxine for an under active thyroid about 3 months ago and since then my teeth have becone extremely sensitive to both hot and cold food and drink and they hurt pretty much all the time. I’ve started using sensitive toothpaste and it hasn’t really helped.
    Could the Levothyroxine be the cause? Nothing else has changed.

  30. Dear Sir/ Madam,

    I get side affect left side eye is not closing ,so I chucked with doctor then the problem is solved , know the same one side teeth musk is vend and some time water is coming in my eye , so kindly tall me what is the problem in email ..

  31. Thank you for this article! I just finished finals and had this problems, so looks like the stress is the cause! Thank you so much!

  32. My mouth is in constant pain. Severe pain in my jaw muscles and joints. Feels like a cramp can never seem to relax my mouth or jaw. Now my upper front teeth are in pain too. A dull moderate constant painful sensation. Not painful to the touch or sensitivity to hot or cold or any types of foods. What to do…

  33. Hi I was in severe pain all my teeth went bad i didn’t want too wait for the antibiotics and then pull them so I made them pull my two teeth upper left in the back came home got infected had a high fever was puking in severe pain. Went to hospital because my dentist wasn’t calling back they gave me antibiotics finally feeling better but now I have a sore throat and sensitive teeth. Is this caused by the antibiotics you think? I’m taking amoxicillin four times a day.

  34. Hi… Apparently I have a unique dental question. Is the nerve in my teeth alive? …I recently (2 weeks ago) fell playing tennis. I unfortunately hit my jaw and upper front teeth on the court surface. There was no sufficient pain with any teeth (none) but I noted three immediate concerns. (1) my bite could no longer close. The lower teeth were hitting the upper front teeth. (2) my lower jaw took most of the impact in the chin. (3) three upper front teeth left a impression on the court surface but they didn’t moved or shifted out position. And they didn’t hurt although one of the large front top tooth had some very slight movement, but it appeared to be in the correct position. I went to dentist and tested my 4 upper teeth between the canine teeth (2 pulled for braces) sensitive to cold. None of the four hurt like the canine teeth to cold. My jaw joint was soar but not fractured but likely inflamed and swelling. Dental x-rays didn’t reveal any upper tooth damage/cracks/ or out of position movement. The dentist gave me two injection numbing the upper teeth. And tried moving the upper teeth outward to release the lower teeth’s overbite. He said they didn’t move and seemed to be setting correctly in their sockets. He ground down the back side of my upper front teeth until my jaw would close. closed. The following day I noted my jaw and bite was closing as it normally should, the molars all fitting as I had remembered prior to the fall. On a return visit 2 weeks later there all upper teeth seem to have tighten up with no associated pain. But none of the 4 upper teeth are sensitive to cold. The two canine are. Is the nerve alive? Do I have to have root canal on each upper tooth?
    Sincerely hopefully not toothless,
    Joshua C.

  35. I’m going through a second period of sensitivity with all my teeth. The first time was well over ten years ago and cleared up on it’s own with a gel made by the same manufacturer of toothpaste for sensitive teeth (it’s more concentrated), but that time the reason was clear: I’d drunk a cup of very hot tea when just coming in from a freezing cold hike. The pain didn’t start till the next day, but it was extremely intense whenever I drank even a warm beverage. My dentist recommended trying the gel because he knew I had no issues with my teeth, fillings, crowns, or gums. This time, the pain is less intense but continues all the time, even at night. Ibuprofen helps a lot, but I don’t like taking it around the clock. That gel does help immediately. I’ve waited a week now, so I’m going to go ahead and contact my dentist. It’s not going away like the last time. One thing I’ll comment on: it seems that it might be brought on by a shift in seasons – this time our weather warmed up really early and then suddenly turned cold again. It’s the only trigger I can think of.

  36. I noticed some tooth sensitivity so I went to my dentist thinking I had a cavity. After X-rays showed nothing. He gave me amoxicillin for a week. I still had pain so he changed one of my metal fillings to white. I had a difficult time getting numb which never happened before. When at home later and the novicane wore off my whole jaw and other teeth on that one side hurt. I used ibprophen and Tylenol and a heating pad. After this I came down with Shingles but on my chest to back.
    My left teeth and jaw still hurt so went to the doc and he has given me flagil. It’s only been a couple of days yet but if that doesn’t work what do I do next? Back to my dentist?

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