What causes tooth sensitivity?

What causes tooth sensitivity?

If you have felt extreme sensitivity in your teeth by simply drinking a hot cup of tea or coffee, or eating an ice cream, you will know just how painful it can be.

In fact, you may even feel afraid of experiencing this kind of severe pain again and avoid hot and cold foods and drinks altogether. Perhaps you even dread every day actions like brushing and flossing for fear of triggering feelings of discomfort.

Sensitivity occurs when your teeth’s dentin becomes exposed and the nerves under the enamel are triggered by stimuli like extreme temperatures, and acidic, sweet or spicy foods. But the pain can also be caused by underlying conditions like gum disease and infections. Read on to find out more about what could be causing your tooth sensitivity, and how we can help…

What is tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is a fairly common condition, and refers to an uncomfortable, shooting pain often felt when eating or drinking something hot or cold, as well as sweet or acidic foods. Sensitivity occurs when the dentin, which is the layer of the tooth underneath the enamel, or the cementum, which is the layer that covers the root of the tooth, is exposed along the gum line. This exposed area responds to extreme temperatures and other triggers, leading to pain and discomfort.

What causes it?

Tooth sensitivity can be caused by a number of factors, including gum disease in cases where the gums have become exposed, as well as over brushing which wears down the enamel of the teeth. Sensitivity can also be caused by tooth grinding, which wears down the enamel and exposes the dentin, while underlying problems like decayed and diseased teeth may also cause sensitivity to hot and cold foods.

Can it be prevented?

If you suspect that you are damaging your teeth by brushing too hard, rather opt for a soft-bristled brush and use a specially formulated toothpaste that will help to provide relief. It’s also best to stick to good oral hygiene habits to prevent gum loss and to make sure that your mouth stays clean and free of decay.

If, however, your sensitivity is caused by an underlying condition, it’s important that you come in and see us so that we can provide you with the treatment you need. Damaged teeth can cause a lot of problems, and if you experience discomfort or extreme sensitivity, you may need a filling or root canal therapy.

What is root canal therapy?

The ‘root canal’ is the term that is used to describe the natural cavity within the centre of the tooth, while the pulp is the soft area within the root canal. When the nerve tissue and pulp inside the root canal are inflamed or infected, it is often necessary to remove them in order to save the tooth from extraction. During the procedure, the damaged and diseased nerve tissue and pulp is carefully removed and the root canal is cleaned and disinfected before a filling is placed to seal the space. Once the procedure is complete, you can expect relief from pain and discomfort, and you’ll be able to chew and bite as normal.

Could it be a cavity?

Pain caused by hot and cold foods could also be a sign of a simple cavity. Also known as tooth decay, a cavity is essentially a hole that has developed in the tooth as a result of plaque build-up. When plaque sticks to the teeth, the acid in the plaque gradually erodes the enamel leading to sensitivity and pain. The good news is that regular dental check-ups can help you prevent cavities. We’ll identify any issues before they become complicated, and if necessary, we can restore decayed teeth with tooth-coloured fillings.

If you are struggling with tooth sensitivity and aren’t sure what could be causing the issue, we recommend that you come in for a consultation so that we can help determine the cause of your discomfort and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. We will take the time to listen to you and make sure that we develop a treatment plan that you feel completely comfortable with. To make an appointment, get in touch with us here. We look forward to seeing you at our dental practice!

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