Different culprits for the zings of pain in teeth implies different things for different members of the family. Tooth sensitivity in families is common when members of the family eat or drink something sour, hot, cold or sweet. The pain can affect the nerve endings in the teeth and is often sudden and sharp.

Teeth become sensitive when gums pull back and the surface beneath (called dentin) gets exposed. Dentin is a soft layer making up the roots and inner part, and it has thousands of tiny tubes leading to the pulp (the nerve centers). These channels cause the trigger in the nerve of your teeth when you eat something particular, resulting in the pain felt.

Each member of the family reacts to different types of tooth sensitivity. Here are the most common ones:

Heat sensitivity: This is a sign of infected teeth. If previously your tooth was sensitive to cold but now has become sensitive to heat, the tooth’s pulp may be decayed and almost dead. Mild heat sensitivity may indicate irritation.

Cold sensitivity: Root exposure or tooth decay is the common cause of this sensitivity. Also, an individual can also have cold sensitivity of teeth after a dental treatment, but in this case the sensation goes away within a week.

Sweet sensitivity: This is an indication of damaged filling or it can be a sign of cavity that needs repair. Tooth areas with worn enamel may also be sensitive to sweets, and the most common culprit of pain to sweet sensitivity is the exposed root.

Biting sensitivity: This can be due to a number of factors, such as cracked teeth (pain comes when an individual bites in a particular way). Infection or injury can be the cause of sensitivity when the whole tooth hurts regardless of where the pressure is placed. Recent fillings can also be the cause of biting sensitivity.

Pain resulting from tooth sensitivity may disappear after a few weeks or days, but it’s important to check with a dentist if the issue persists over a long period of time. A family dentist can discuss dental discomfort of different members of the family and conduct a complete examination. The dentist can then recommend both at-home and in-office treatment options, such as crowns to improve decayed teeth, special toothpaste to avoid enamel erosion, and protective resin painted on the teeth, to name a few.

Changing your personal habits can also help in reducing tooth sensitivity. For instance, grinding teeth when tense leads to the wear and tear of enamel and exposure of tiny tubules leading to the inner nerves of the tooth, which raises a sensitivity issue. Some individuals may not even realize they’re grinding; sudden jaw pain could be a hint. Wearing a mount guard at night, or modifying the sleeping position, may help.

Sometimes you may be brushing incorrectly which is the cause of receding gums, so you may be able to reduce the pain by changing the way you brush before pursuing a restorative treatment. When it comes to diet, family members should control the intake of tea or coffee as the acid content in both can aggravate a sensitive tooth. If you can’t cut back, dilute them with water to reduce the acidic content.