Sometimes patients notice that they’re no longer able to tolerate very hot or very cold foods because it causes discomfort to eat them. Very sweet foods can also cause a similar reaction in some people.
Such tooth sensitivity can arise from any number of causes. In fact, tooth sensitivity generally develops when the enamel breaks down, exposing underlying dentin. That dentin is full of microscopic tubes that allow sensations like hot and cold to reach the dental nerves in the tooth’s center. Those nerves, in turn, signal discomfort.
When determining how to treat tooth sensitivity, the dentist will first examine your teeth and ask you questions about your habits to see if they might be contributing to the problem. Did you realize that you can brush your teeth too much or too hard? Doing so can compromise the integrity of the enamel, which can result in tooth decay. [pullquote]…tooth sensitivity generally develops when the enamel breaks down, exposing underlying dentin.[/pullquote]
The dentist will also look for signs of oral diseases that can cause tooth sensitivity. Periodontal disease often leads to sensitivity, especially when the gums recede and the underlying roots are exposed. Advanced tooth decay can also create this problem if the tooth’s nerve core is exposed.
Tooth sensitivity can be treated. First and foremost, if a specific condition like gum disease or advanced decay is causing the problem, the dentist will recommend treatment for that condition, and the sensitivity should abate. Advanced gum disease may require a graft to replace missing gum tissue, while a large cavity will require a restoration to reduce the patient’s symptoms.
For sensitivity with a less obvious cause, toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive teeth can help. Patients also may need to adjust their routines to temporarily avoid foods and drinks that trigger episodes of discomfort.
Tooth sensitivity can have many causes, but fortunately, in many cases, this dental problem can be resolved. Talk to our dental team about your symptoms and for suggestions on how to effectively address this issue.