Cleaning your teeth is essential for keeping your smile healthy. If your teeth hurt after brushing or eating hot or cold foods, you may have tooth sensitivity. According to the American Dental Association, tooth decay and gum disease can cause tooth sensitivity, and you will need professional treatment. Your dental professionals can check for signs of oral health problems and recommend a treatment for tooth sensitivity, such as a special toothpaste, a crown, or an in-office application of fluoride gel.
Tooth sensitivity may be temporary. Some people report tooth pain shortly after a visit to their dental hygienist. If the dental hygienist has done any scaling or tartar removal or your teeth could be sensitive if you have gum recession, discomfort can occur from the exposed root surface. In this case, tooth sensitivity is only temporary. You can brush your teeth with sensitive toothpaste. Usually, your teeth will return to normal within a few weeks. If they do not, call your dentist and ask them to check your teeth.
If a recent dental treatment is not the reason, food sensitivity can often be a side effect of damaged enamel, which you can't get back once worn away. Damaged enamel occurs when the hard mineral that protects your teeth's surface erodes over time, as explained by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Enamel erosion is usually the result of exposure to acid or excess sugar. Enamel that wears away can result in cavities and pain after brushing or flossing. If you suspect this is the reason for your teeth hurting after flossing or brushing, talk to your dentist.
If the enamel wears away to the point of exposing the sensitive nerves in your teeth, you have a cavity. These cavities often manifest as sharp pain when you bite down on something hard, and it doesn't have to be hot or cold to set you off. Cavities are small fissures in your teeth, but they can lead to more complicated infections if left unfilled. You should see your dentist as soon as you suspect you have one; he or she can fill it to prevent it from becoming worse.