Pain Free Dentistry

Tooth Sensitivity Can Be a Real Pain

Pain Free Dentistry

Tooth Sensitivity Can Be a Real Pain

Young woman smiling eating a cone of ice cream with a spoon

Do cold foods make your teeth feel like a hot mess? Do hot foods give your teeth the chills? You’re not alone. Read on for some tips to keep your mouth (and you) happy.

Tooth sensitivity is a common problem, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. Many treatments are available that can help you enjoy your favorite foods again quickly.

Tooth sensitivity can have many causes, including:

man with toothache
  • Enamel loss along the gum line – Clenching, grinding, and brushing too hard or with a hard-bristled toothbrush can cause the thin enamel along the gum line to wear away. Under the tooth enamel lies a layer of dentin. Dentin’s composition is much like our bones, brutal yet porous. Our teeth consist of tiny tubules serving channels to the pulp and nerves. When these tubules are exposed, they send signals in the form of pain to the nerves to indicate that the protective enamel has been breached. This helps us understand that a problem with our teeth needs attention.
  • Tooth decay – A small cavity in a tooth’s enamel is generally an easy fix, but if left to grow, it can cause excruciating pain. Once the decay has eaten away at the enamel into the dentin, it can cause pain. If ignored, it can reach the pulp chamber or nerve of the tooth, resulting in a constant ache made worse by sudden changes in temperature from food or drink.
  • Fractured teeth/worn or missing fillings—A broken tooth or worn-broken fillings allow liquids, saliva, and food to seep into the crack or hole in your tooth, causing discomfort. Even a minor fracture can cause a lot of pain.
  • Gum disease – Periodontal disease causes the gums to shrink back, exposing a protective layer called cementum that covers the root of your tooth. The roots of our teeth are much softer than the enamel that protects the tops of our teeth and are much more susceptible to decay. When gum disease is present, the gums recede, exposing this sensitive area that can cause extreme sensitivity even when breathing cold air.
  • Neglect and lack of professional checkups – Neglecting your oral hygiene routine and not seeing a dental professional for regular cleanings and exams can also cause tooth sensitivity. When you don’t brush well, plaque builds up on your teeth and hardens, turning into calculus, also called tartar. Once this happens, no homecare routine can remove it. Gum tissue doesn’t like calculus and can’t “breathe,” so it shrinks away from the root of the tooth, not only exposing the root to sensitivity but also kicking off the cycle of gum disease.
woman using toothbrush

Fortunately, many quick, painless, and cost-effective ways exist to treat tooth sensitivity. Depending on the level of sensitivity and the cause, your dentist may recommend desensitizing toothpaste or fluoride gel as a first step to help ease the pain. Many on the market today have varying strengths, from over-the-counter to those needing a prescription. If the cause is due to clenching or grinding, you may need to wear an appliance at night to prevent further damage to your teeth. Sometimes, more intensive procedures are necessary to alleviate sensitivity. Root canals, gum grafts, or a crown may be needed to fix the problem.

In some cases, tooth sensitivity can be avoided altogether by using the softest toothbrush recommended by your dentist. Gentle brushing (not scrubbing), flossing regularly, and seeing your hygienist and dentist at least every six months are also recommended. Working with your dental professionals can make your mouth pain-free and keep you smiling for years.

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Quarterly Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new services and promotions.

Contact Us Today

Meet a few of our happy patient