January 10, 2020
One day at lunch, you take a drink of cold water and feel sharp tooth sensitivity that wasn’t there before. You should know you’re not alone. It is estimated that one in eight adults has at least one sensitive tooth. While you’re dealing with this discomfort, many questions can come to mind. Could something be wrong? Is it serious? Do you need to see an emergency dentist? What should you do in this situation? In this post, we’ll answer these questions, helping you learn more about tooth sensitivity and what you can do to preserve your healthy smile.
What causes tooth sensitivity?
There are actually several potential causes of tooth sensitivity. Unfortunately, small spaces between teeth can get food stuck in them and apply pressure to the teeth. As a result, your teeth can feel sore or extra sensitive when you bite down. The same sensation can occur if you have a cold or sinus infection. In addition, if tooth roots are not properly protected by gum tissue, which can be a result of harsh brushing or gum disease, then hot and cold foods or drinks can trigger discomfort.
Although the exterior layer of your teeth (called the enamel) is the strongest material in your body, your teeth can develop weak points of decay or cracks. At these points, the inside layers of the tooth (called the dentin and pulp) become exposed to bacteria, hot, and cold. When tooth decay has penetrated the enamel and reached the dentin, the tooth’s nerve can send sensitive signals to your brain.
What can I do about tooth sensitivity?
If tooth sensitivity continues to bother you for more than a couple of days or if it progresses to a severe, constant toothache, you should make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Depending on the cause of the problem, they can provide treatment, such as root canal therapy, to strengthen your tooth. Regardless of the treatment, the sensitivity or pain can often be greatly alleviated within a single visit.
What is a root canal?
At the mere mention of a root canal, people can wince at the thought of excruciating pain. However, the truth of the matter is that root canal therapy is a tooth-saving procedure that takes away discomfort. Pain is common beforehand, but the root canal procedure itself feels just like getting a cavity filled. With root canal therapy, compromised teeth through decay or damage would otherwise need to be extracted!
This procedure entails removing the pulp and any infected tooth structure, sealing it off, and placing a filling or crown to restore the tooth’s function, strength, and appearance. With root canal therapy, you can keep your natural teeth and get relief from dental sensitivity.
How can I prevent tooth sensitivity?
At home, you can use specially formulated fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to reinforce your enamel. Also, you can make sure that you don’t brush your teeth too rigorously and you make time to floss at least once every day. These habits will help clear away plaque and food debris between your teeth. On top of daily oral care, having a dental checkup and cleaning at least every six months goes a long way to prevent decay and ensure that any problems are resolved before you have the chance to experience tooth sensitivity.
Although a sensitive tooth can just be inconvenient and uncomfortable at first, it can quickly get worse and cause real damage to your smile. Make sure you are doing all you can to keep your teeth healthy and strong, and you’ll be much more likely to avoid sensitivity in the future.
About the Author
Married to our own Dr. Ryan Johnson, Dr. Rose Johnson is a well-respected dentist in Jacksonville who practices alongside prosthodontist Dr. Wayne Barker on the southeast side of town. She welcomes emergency patients who are in need of immediate attention to her practice, Jacksonville Complete Dentistry. If you have questions or you’d like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson, you can contact Jacksonville Complete Dentistry.
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