Sensitive Teeth or Sensitive Gums?

sensitive gums or teeth

Most people have experienced the sensation of taking a sip of ice-cold water and immediately feeling a stab of discomfort in their teeth. Sudden mouth pain is usually an indication that something is not quite right with your oral health. But how do you tell the difference between tooth pain and gum pain? For many, the sensations are similar and it’s difficult to identify the underlying cause.

Luckily, there are several ways to tell the difference between gum pain and tooth pain. It all depends on accompanying symptoms and paying attention to what exacerbates the discomfort.

Gum Sensitivity

What Causes Gum Sensitivity?

Gum sensitivity is typically caused by inflammation in the gums due to poor oral hygiene. Gum sensitivity is an indicator of gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis.

  • Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums which largely occurs due to an excess of plaque along the gum line.
  • Periodontitis occurs when inflamed gums recede so far that teeth begin to loosen due to lack of support.
  • Lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, poor nutrition and even obesity my increase your risk of developing gum disease.

What are the Symptoms?

Since gums are often visibly inflamed, symptoms of gum disease are usually fairly apparent even to the untrained eye. Common symptoms include:

  • Swelling in the gums.
  • Tender gums.
  • Redness.
  • Bleeding gums.
  • Persistent bad breath.

If you have any of these symptoms, schedule a visit to the dentist for further evaluation.

Tooth Sensitivity

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is often the result of a variety of issues that affect the enamel and structure of your teeth. Like gum sensitivity, tooth sensitivity may be an indication of a more serious underlying dental condition. As the outer layer of enamel wears away, the layer of dentin

beneath is exposed. This is where many of your teeth’s nerve cells connect, so it’s no wonder that worn enamel leads to increased sensitivity. Other causes for tooth sensitivity include:

  • Grinding your teeth, particularly while sleeping.
  • Untreated cavities.
  • Loose fillings.
  • Dental erosion due to intense brushing.

What are the Symptoms of Tooth Sensitivity

Unlike gums, it’s often difficult to tell just by looking if a tooth is feeling sensitive. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to your symptoms as they occur.

Tooth sensitivity symptoms include:

  • Discomfort while brushing or flossing.
  • Sensitivity when eating hot, cold, or sugary foods.
  • Receding gums.


The first step towards an effective treatment is seeking professional advice from your dentist’s office. Your dentist will be able to ascertain the root cause of your discomfort and recommend the best treatment plan. Treatments for booth tooth and gum sensitivity can range from fairly minor routine adjustments to surgical procedures.

For tooth sensitivity, your dentist might have you try a new toothpaste specifically formulated to reduce sensation. Likewise, gum inflammation due to gingivitis can be treated with a more thorough oral care routine at home and inflammation-reducing toothpaste. In some cases, treatments may include procedures like root canals, gum grafts, or fillings.


One of the most effective ways to fight tooth and gum pain is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Preventative measures for both tooth and gum pain are fairly similar, and aim to keep your smile healthy and bright.

For best results:

  • Brush your teeth 2 times a day at least.
  • Floss every day.
  • Eliminate sugary foods from your diet where possible.
  • Stop using tobacco products.

Adopting some at-home care routines will keep your teeth healthy and pain-free for years to come.

Don’t Skip Your Trip to the Dentist

One of the best ways to prevent tooth and gum sensitivity is by regularly visiting the dentist. At Treasured Smiles Adult and Cosmetic Dentistry, patient comfort is our top priority. Our dental-care team is here to help you find effective solutions for any dental complications and have a stress-free experience. Our state-of-the-art offices are designed for efficiency, comfort, and style. We offer services ranging from cosmetic dentistry, to routine cleanings, to restorative treatments. It’s never too late to start prioritizing your dental care! Book your first appointment today.