Tooth Sensitive to Touch With Finger: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

If you find yourself with teeth so sensitive they hurt to touch, it is important to know what to do. 

Some causes of tooth sensitivity are serious, while others are relatively easy to fix. Either way, this kind of tooth pain to touch is distressing and often causes some level of anxiety. 

In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms and ways that this kind of tooth pain can be treated. 

We’ll also let you know when you should see a dentist, and what remedies you can do at home. 

If this applies to you, read on to find out exactly what to do. 

Possible Causes of Tooth Sensitivity to Touch

If you find yourself in pain just due to the simple action of touching a tooth, there may be a number of things that have caused it. 

It is important to seek dental attention if you are experiencing this type of pain, as it may be the symptom of a more serious condition. 

In general, damage to a tooth can result in the nerve being more prone to sending pain signals when you touch it. 

We’ll delve into some causes for this damage, and other factors that are contributing to tooth pain in response to touch. 

Dental decay or cavities

Dental decay, or cavities, occur when bacteria or acid sources slowly erode the enamel in your teeth. 

This exposes the underlying layer of the tooth, called the dentin. This puts your teeth at greater risk of infection, and exposes the nerves, making it very painful. 

Some causes of dental decay include poor dental hygiene, consumption of overly sugary or acidic foods, and poor saliva flow. 

Symptoms Include: 

  • Sensitivity to touch as well as cold and hot stimuli¬†
  • Discoloration on the tooth
  • Small holes or pits on the tooth¬†
  • Bad smelling breath¬†

Gum disease, periodontitis or gum recession 

General gum disease can result in tooth sensitivity, including a painful response to touch, especially at the more advanced stages of gum disease. 

For example, gum recession occurs when there is advanced gum disease which results in the gum being pulled away from the tooth, exposing the tooth’s root with the nerve exposed. 

Some causes include plaque build up around the gums, bacterial infections, and overly excessive and aggressive brushing resulting in gum inflammation. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Tooth or gum sensitivity to touch, or temperature changes¬†
  • Red and swollen gums¬†
  • Bleeding gums¬†
  • Gums that have pulled away from the tooth¬†
  • Bad breath¬†
  • Loose teeth¬†
  • Pus around the teeth¬†
  • New gaps between teeth¬†

Tooth abscess

A tooth abscess occurs due to a bacterial infection, which can occur inside the tooth, or surrounding the tooth. 

This infection can be caused by a number of factors. 

For example, infections can result from severe tooth decay, gum disease, or after a dental procedure or trauma to the tooth/surrounding tissue. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Pain, both persistent and when touch or other pressure is applied to the area¬†
  • Swelling of the area around the tooth, or on the face in the general area¬†
  • Gum redness¬†
  • Fever
  • Pus which is present around the tooth¬†
  • Bad taste in the mouth¬†
  • Bad breath

Enamel erosion

Enamel, the outer surface of our teeth and what protects them from damage, can become eroded over time. This exposes the underlying layers of our teeth, making them more prone to damage and causing pain. 

Enamel erosion can occur due to a number of factors including consuming very acidic or sugary foods over a period of time, acid reflux, poor saliva flow, grinding of teeth and very aggressive brushing of teeth/excessive whitening procedures. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Pain to touch or in response to hot/cold foods¬†
  • Yellow discoloration of the tooth¬†
  • Transparency at the outer edges of teeth¬†
  • Cracks and chips, especially on the outer edge of teeth¬†
  • Increases in cavity formation¬†

Cracked tooth syndrome

As the name suggests, a very common cause of tooth sensitivity to touch is a cracked tooth. 

These cracks may not be very large or obvious, but can significantly impact the  of our teeth as they can expose the nerves which are responsible for pain. 

Some of the most obvious causes for cracked teeth include accidents where there has been force to the face. 

There are also some other causes which are less clear, such as teeth grinding, especially during the night when we may not be aware of it, along with excessive, uneven chewing and aging. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Painful response to touch as well as hot/cold foods¬†
  • Pain after biting down on something¬†
  • Visible cracks in the teeth. Although some may not be noticeable.¬†
  • Inflammation of the gum¬†
  • Pain in the jaw due to clenching of teeth, or grinding which has caused the cracks

Bruxism or teeth grinding

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can cause damage to the enamel which exposes the underlying tooth, and makes our teeth much more prone to damage which can cause pain in response to touch. 

Many people who clench their teeth find themselves doing so at night, when they are unaware they are doing it. While others commonly clench their teeth when they are stressed during the day. 

Symptoms include:

  • Tooth sensitivity to touch as well as hot and cold exposure¬†
  • Small cracks in the surface of teeth¬†
  • Sore jaw on waking, or during the day¬†
  • Tension headaches¬†

Sinusitis or sinus pressure

Sinus infections can cause tooth pain in response to touch. Our sinuses, located by our nose, and in our maxilla can become infected, or inflamed which can cause pain in the upper row of teeth. 

Because of the close location of the sinuses to the top row of teeth pain often becomes referred from our sinuses to our top row of teeth. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of a sinus infection, together with pain in the top row of teeth in response to touch, a sinus infection may be the culprit. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Pain in the top row of teeth in response to touch¬†
  • Nasal congestion
  • Facial pain or pressure, especially in the cheeks and forehead
  • Postnasal drip which is often yellow¬†
  • Reduced sense of smell¬†
  • Fatigue¬†
  • Fever¬†

Excessive whitening 

A common cause of pain when touching your teeth with your fingers is excessive whitening. 

Whitening products, whether professional, or brought over the counter, are not intended to be overused. 

If someone does overuse these products, or has an underlying sensitivity and uses these products anyway, it can cause further discomfort, including pain in response to touch.

Whitening products often work by buffing away the top layer of enamel to remove surface stains. Some whitening products also work by bleaching teeth, which can cause damage to our teeth, including cracks and overall weakened enamel. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Shooting pain in response to touch¬†
  • Temperature sensitivity¬†
  • Pain when brushing teeth¬†
  • Gum sensitivity¬†
  • Small cracks in the teeth, or transparent borders¬†

A loose crown or filling

When you bite down, there may be some pain from a loose crown or filling. Bacteria can get under a loose filling and irritate your tooth and possibly the nerve.

Symptoms include: 

  • Teeth sensitivity to pressure, heat, air, and some foods
  • Food becoming lodged at the gum line
  • In the tooth beneath, there is throbbing pain

When to See a Dentist 

If you are experiencing pain in one, or multiple teeth in response to pain, it is time to see a dentist. 

While not all conditions that cause pain in your teeth in response to touch are serious, many are. Ensuring that you see your dentist promptly ensures that any condition does not worsen. 

If you are experiencing pain in your teeth in response to touch, and any of these symptoms it is important that you seek immediate medical or dental attention: 

  • Throbbing pain
  • Swollen gums
  • Pus originating from the tooth or gums¬†
  • Trauma to the tooth, including large chips in the tooth¬†
  • Cavities, or holes in the teeth¬†
  • Fever or general lack of energy¬†
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bad taste in the mouth¬†

It is also important that you seek attention if you have recently had a dental procedure, or have been involved in an accident involving your face or teeth. 

How A Dentist Can Diagnose The Problem 

Your dentist will likely be able to diagnose the underlying cause of the discomfort, and find ways to manage and treat the condition. 

The dentist will ask about your medical history, as well as exploring the symptoms you are experiencing. This will involve asking you a series of questions about your overall health, any dental procedures you have had and what symptoms you are experiencing, as well as when they started. 

The dentist will then take a close look at your teeth and gums. They may take samples of any pus they see. At this point they may take an x-ray to look at the roots of your teeth, along with any jaw problems. 

Treatment Options 

Luckily there are many treatment options which can help alleviate the pain felt if your teeth are sensitive to touch. Your dentist will first diagnose the issue before treating the condition. 

Treatment options depend on the cause, and include: 

  • Fillings¬†
  • Root canals¬†
  • Tooth extraction¬†
  • Medication, including painkillers and antibiotics¬†
  • Dental crowns¬†
  • Drainage of pus¬†
  • Tooth Guard for teeth grinding¬†
  • Veneers¬†
  • Fluoride treatment and desensitization with specialized toothpaste¬†

At-Home Tips

While the most important thing to do if you are experiencing tooth pain in response to touch is to see a dentist, there are a few steps you can do in addition from your own home. 

These tips can avoid worsening of the condition for a period of time, and can manage the symptoms. 

Brushing Gently

Tooth sensitive to the touch of even a finger is often due to damage and wear in our teeth. 

Brushing aggressively, or with a firm brush can further damage the enamel and cause more discomfort. 

Even if you have developed a habit of aggressive brushing, it is important to clean your teeth in gentle circular motion, with a soft or medium bristles toothbrush to protect your teeth. 

Using Desensitizing Toothpaste

Your dentist may suggest that you try toothpaste that can help protect the teeth. 

Toothpaste such as Boka’s h-Na toothpaste is made to biomimic teeth and can help remineralize teeth to support the enamel. 

Avoiding Triggers

Often people who are experiencing pain in response to touching their teeth will also feel discomfort in response to hot or cold food/drink. 

Avoiding these triggers is important in reducing discomfort while awaiting dental care. 

Gently Chew Sugar-free Gum

Chewing on sugar-free gum can help increase saliva flow which coats and protects the tooth, providing some relief from discomfort 

Join the Boka Tribe for a Healthier Smile 

Here at Boka, we pride ourselves on using cutting edge technology to formulate the very best fluoride-free toothpaste to protect your smile. 

Our range of dentist-approved toothpaste is made to close holes on enamel that can cause tooth sensitivity and helps to reduce existing sensitivity by supporting enamel strength. 

We are also proud to formulate popular dental floss, tongue cleaners and mouthwash, along with expert whitening products. 

The best way to ensure a smile that is healthy and strong is to ensure you are looking after your teeth with the very best product available on the market.

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