Why is My Tooth Sensitive, and What can I Do About it?

tooth sensitivity

Sciota, Pennsylvania

Tooth sensitivity is a pain in the, well, tooth. The zing of pain when eating something sweet or drinking something cold — and sometimes even when breathing in cold air — is easily identifiable. Sometimes, tooth sensitivity is nothing to worry about. Other times, it could be a sign of a more serious issue that requires professional dental care.

Today our Sciota dentist at Chestnuthill Dental is taking a deeper dive into tooth sensitivity: What causes it? And what should you do about it?

What is tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is quite common, most often affecting adults between the ages of 20-40. Symptoms can range from a slight twinge of pain that comes and goes to a dull ache that lingers.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

The zinging sensation is caused when the tooth’s nerve is exposed to stimuli. Teeth have layers: a yellow “dentin” layer on the inside, and the pearly-white, durable shell known as enamel on the outside. Enamel is responsible for insulating a tooth from temperature variations. When the dentin is exposed to stimuli, a tooth becomes susceptible to discomfort because of temperature changes, biting pressure or even sugary foods and beverages.

It’s important to pay attention to when tooth sensitivity occurs, because it could provide clues about whether it’s something that will pass or if maybe you should see the dentist.

Here’s what could be going on when you experience tooth sensitivity:

Thinning enamel

Enamel can thin with age or if a person suffers from common dental disorders like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) or Bruxism.

Let’s define both:

  • TMJ — The temporomandibular joints are two joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. The joints are like hinges, sliding and rotating in front of each ear. A disorder of the joints is commonly referred to as TMJ, and it often causes facial pain, chronic headaches, worn teeth, a clicking or popping in the jaw and/or ringing or pain deep in the ears.
  • Bruxism Bruxism is the unconscious clenching or grinding of teeth, usually during sleep, and it’s frequently associated with TMJ.

A bad bite from TMJ disorder or clenching and grinding your teeth at night can actually cause small abfractions in tooth enamel. This means the enamel flakes off and creates dents in the teeth along the gum line.

Cracked or damaged tooth

Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by old fillings, loose dental crowns or a microscopic fracture in your tooth. These aren’t always problems with easily self-identifiable causes, which is why routine dental exams with our Sciota family dentist are so important. Routine X-rays will usually detect one of these common dental problems that can cause sensitive teeth, and the dentist knows how to easily treat them. 

Gum disease

Gum disease will affect almost all U.S. adults at some point in their lives. It’s entirely preventable but if left untreated can lead to gum recession, tooth sensitivity and, eventually, tooth loss. If you’re experiencing receding gums along with tooth sensitivity, it could be the beginning stages of gum disease, which our Sciota dentist can treat. Gum disease can be prevented by a strong oral health regimen that includes regular dental checkups.

Tooth sensitivity in Sciota, PA

Many sensitivity-reducing toothpastes are available on the market and may provide relief to someone suffering with sensitive teeth. But the most foolproof way to make sure there are no underlying dental problems causing the sensitivity is to be seen by a dentist. If you have tooth sensitivity, or if it’s time for your annual checkup, give our family dentist at Chestnuthill Dental a call at (570) 865-7929 or reach out to us online today.

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