You’re enjoying a hot cup of coffee or indulging in a sweet, icy treat when suddenly — ow! If you experience pain when your teeth are exposed to hot and cold temperatures, you could be facing a serious dental problem. Your emergency dentist is here to discuss some common culprits behind sensitive teeth and how you may be able to stop the pain.
The Reasons Behind Sensitive Teeth
There is basically only one reason why your teeth might be sensitive to temperature changes: hot and cold substances are irritating your teeth’s inner layers. When that happens, the nerves in the teeth send pain signals to your brain.
Here a few reasons why a tooth’s nerve may become vulnerable to outside influences:
- You have thin tooth enamel. One of the enamel’s main jobs is to protect the inner layers of your teeth. However, due to genetics or erosion, your enamel may be thin enough that extreme temperatures are able to permeate it.
- You have a cavity. If you have a new cavity, or one of your fillings fell out, the inner layers of your teeth may become exposed.
- Your gums are receding. The roots of your teeth do not have enamel to protect them. Therefore, if your gums recede too much, those roots become exposed and are thus vulnerable to extreme temperature changes.
- Your tooth’s pulp is suffering. When damage or decay affects a tooth’s innermost layer (the pulp), it may become extremely sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. The pain normally does not go away immediately after the source of the temperature change is removed.
How Your Dentist Can Help with Tooth Sensitivity
If you’ve recently noticed that your teeth are more sensitive than they used to be, it would certainly be wise for you to schedule a checkup with your dentist. If thin enamel is the source of your pain, they may simply suggest that you begin using a toothpaste that is specifically made to fight sensitivity. If there is a cavity, a filling may be all you need to fix the problem.
In other circumstances, tooth sensitivity is a sign that you’re headed for a dental emergency. For example, an infection in the tooth’s pulp is a serious problem because the bacteria could spread outside the tooth and lead to systemic illness. Gum recession is also a cause for concern because it could mean that you have periodontal disease, a condition that could ultimately lead to tooth loss and other grievous consequences. Treating such problems as soon as possible will enhance your short-term comfort and protect your long-term well-being.
How are your teeth feeling? If ice cream and hot cocoa are making you cringe, it’s time to schedule your next dental visit.
About the Author
Dr. Erick T. Anderson is an experienced general dentist who is a native of the Colorado Springs area. He is qualified to address a range of oral health concerns, including sensitive teeth. If you would like to discover how he may be able to help you, contact our office at 719-593-0988.