For a lot of us, biting into an ice cream sandwich or taking a swig of some steamy, delicious cocoa brings about a tiny bit of nervous apprehension. Is it going to hurt? For those of us that have sensitive teeth, the delights of hot and cold foods sometimes cause our mouths to hurt. It’s an unfortunate burden, and it makes the best seasonal foods harder for us to enjoy. What is it that makes this happen? Why does it hurt to drink your milkshake?
Some of the most common causes of sensitive teeth include:
- Cavities, both developed and beginning to develop
- Fractured teeth, and chipped enamel
- Worn fillings
- Exposed roots
- Gum disease
Our teeth have natural defenses from things that might cause pain or disruption. The tooth is covered with a layer of protective material called enamel, it protects the part of the tooth that is exposed above the gums, and when that is worn away or chipped off of the tooth tiny, microscopic canals along the dentin (less dense part of the tooth directly below the enamel) are exposed and hot, cold, sticky, and acidic foods can reach the nerves inside the tooth through these canals. This is where the pain and irritation come from when we have sensitive teeth. Recessed gums can also expose dentin and thus bring about sensitivity in teeth.
There are ways to combat tooth sensitivity though; you don’t have to live the rest of your life. Obviously, the timing and intensity of treatment are dictated by the cause and severity of the cause of your tooth sensitivity. Some of the treatments include:
- Going to your dentist and having treatment in-office with fluoride gel to strengthen your tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity.
- A crown, inlay, or bonding done at your dentist’s office to correct any flaws/decay in your teeth.
- A root canal can reduce or eliminate severe and persistent sensitivity; it is often the last resort in combating sensitive teeth.
- A surgical gum graft could be necessary if enough of your gum tissue has receded, this procedure will protect the root of the tooth and the overall health of your mouth.
- Using desensitizing toothpaste is a good first step in combating sensitive teeth. These kinds of toothpaste contain compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, taking time to begin working.
Remember that any time you are feeling pain in your mouth, are sensitive to the temperature of your food beyond that of the average person, or feel there might be decay or degradation taking place see your dentist as soon as possible. Problems can be caught and taken care of before they become much more serious. Taking care of your teeth through hygiene and diet is your best first step in avoiding future pain and irritation.