sensitive-teethMost days, you probably don’t think much about your teeth. Other than brushing and flossing those pearly whites, your thoughts are generally elsewhere. However, if you’ve recently been experiencing tooth sensitivity, it’s likely they’ve been on your mind more than usual.

When a person has sensitive teeth, it can really interfere with his or her daily activities. They may ache or zing at unexpected moments, leaving you wondering just what is causing this sudden change in sensitivity.

Pay Attention

There are various reasons a person’s teeth may become sensitive. Because of this, it is a good idea to pay attention to when your teeth feel this way. What are you doing, or eating, when the discomfort arises? It can be the result of pressure, sweets, or temperature change. First, let’s discuss pressure: When a person chews food or gum, teeth can become sensitive to the pressure. This may be due to an increase in clenching or grinding the teeth. Or it could be a result of tooth decay, abscess, or a cracked tooth. If your teeth tend to hurt when you eat sweets, it is likely your teeth are experiencing decay. And with hot and cold temperatures, reasons include factors such as decay, abscess, worn teeth, and receded gums.

Plaque and Decay

As you can probably see, sensitive teeth often lead back to a decay problem. Decay is formed by saliva combining with sugars and carbohydrates from your food. This creates bacteria and plaque that work to destroy you teeth. More particularly, acid from the plaque is created, which immediately begins to eat away at the enamel of your teeth. Enamel is the hard outer coating of a tooth. Its job is to protect the more sensitive parts of the tooth. Of course, when the enamel is eaten away by this acid, problems begin to arise. It’s really no wonder that your teeth begin to be sensitive, as that hard, protective layer is in jeopardy.

It probably goes without saying that when tooth sensitivity occurs, you need to make an appointment with your dentist. If you catch the problem early enough, you may only need to have a cavity filled. Perhaps one of the worst mistakes you can make (and a tempting one, particularly if you have “dental phobia”) is to put it off, hoping the problem will just go away. This is a mistake because the problem will just get worse. Rather than catching it quickly and dealing with a cavity filling, you will likely need a crown, root canal, abscess, or extraction. When it comes to the health of your teeth, it is far better to get the problem fixed immediately than to wait.

Visit the Dentist Regularly

A quick note about bleaching: If you experience discomfort after bleaching your teeth, you probably don’t have a dental condition that needs fixing. Many people experience this sensitivity, but it will likely go away within a few days. Of course, if it does not, it is a good idea to see your dentist.

Again, when it comes to your teeth, it’s a good idea to fix the problem immediately. Giving high priority to the health of your mouth will ensure that it stays in top shape and that you feel great!

Dr. Nathan Tanner Author:
Dr. Nathan Tanner
About Author
Dr. Nathan Tanner is a dentist in Billings, MT., who has extensive experience through owning his own practice, Grand Avenue Dental Care, and from teaching cosmetic and pain-free dentistry at the OHSU dental school.

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