Do you experience sharp pain or discomfort when you consume cold or hot drinks or foods? If yes, then you might be among the millions of people who suffer from tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity is a common oral problem that affects people of all ages. It is characterized by pain or discomfort in your teeth when you consume certain foods or drinks or when you brush or floss your teeth. Although tooth sensitivity is common and often harmless, it can be a sign of a more severe underlying dental issue, hence the need to take it seriously. But how can you tell if that’s the case? Your dental team from Advanced Indiana in Fortville, IN, is here to give you some more insight.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity can be a result of various factors that expose the sensitive inner layers of your teeth. Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Enamel Wear: Your tooth enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of your teeth. Regular consumption of acidic foods and beverages, excessive tooth grinding, or harsh brushing can gradually wear down this enamel, exposing the dentin – a softer part of your tooth that leads to the nerves. Once the dentin is exposed, hot, cold, sweet, and acidic substances can trigger the nerves inside the tooth, leading to sensitivity.
  • Gum Disease: Also called periodontal disease, gum disease can cause your gums to recede and expose the roots of your teeth, which are not protected by enamel. This exposure can lead to sensitivity, especially when eating or drinking hot or cold items. Regular professional cleanings and good oral hygiene at home can help prevent gum disease and, consequently, tooth sensitivity.
  • Tooth Damage: Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth can also lead to tooth sensitivity. Depending on the extent of the damage, the sensitive inner part of your tooth can be exposed, causing discomfort or pain, especially when eating or drinking hot or cold items or when biting down. Seeing a dentist promptly for any damage to your teeth can prevent sensitivity and other complications.

Understanding the root cause of your tooth sensitivity is the first step toward effective treatment. Always consult a dental professional if you experience ongoing tooth sensitivity. They can provide a thorough examination and recommend appropriate treatment based on the cause of your sensitivity.

dentist reviewing dental exam with patient

What Are the Symptoms of Sensitivity?

The most apparent symptom of tooth sensitivity is tooth pain or discomfort when you consume hot, cold, sweet, or acidic drinks or foods. The pain might be sharp or mild, and it might last for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms include pain when brushing or flossing your teeth, sensitivity to air or water, and toothache. If you experience any of these, we need to know. We can evaluate your dental health and come up with the right treatment plan for you.

Treatment Options for Tooth Sensitivity

The treatment options for tooth sensitivity depend on the underlying cause of the problem. If you experience tooth sensitivity, the first step should be to consult your dentist for an examination. After diagnosing the root cause of your tooth sensitivity, your dentist might recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
Desensitizing toothpaste that contains compounds that block the sensitivity of the nerves.

  • Fluoride treatment to strengthen your enamel.
  • Dental fillings or bonding to repair cracked or chipped teeth.
  • Root canal treatment for severe tooth sensitivity caused by nerve damage or infection.
  • Surgery to cover exposed root surfaces caused by gum recession.

When Should You Seek Help for Tooth Sensitivity?

If you experience tooth sensitivity regularly or have severe pain that does not go away after a few days, you should seek professional dental care. Tooth sensitivity can be a sign of a severe underlying dental problem that requires immediate treatment to prevent future complications. Ignoring your tooth sensitivity can lead to more severe dental problems such as gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.

Why Shouldn’t You Ignore Tooth Sensitivity?

Ignoring tooth sensitivity might seem like the easy route to take, but it’s a decision that could have serious repercussions on your oral health and overall well-being. At times, tooth sensitivity is not just a minor inconvenience—it can be a warning signal of more profound and potentially severe dental problems.

  • Tooth Decay: When tooth sensitivity is ignored for an extended period, it could lead to more severe tooth decay. The sensitivity might be due to cavities or caries that are yet to be treated. These cavities can grow and reach the inner layers of the tooth, causing severe pain and damage.
    Gum Disease: Sensitivity may be a sign of receding gums caused by gum disease. Ignoring this symptom could make the condition worse, leading to tooth loss and potentially increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Abscessed Tooth: Prolonged sensitivity might also be a sign of an abscessed tooth. This is an infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth. If left untreated, the infection could spread to other parts of your body, leading to a life-threatening condition.
  • Oral Cancer: Though less common, persistent pain or discomfort in the mouth could be a sign of oral cancer. Any pain or sensitivity in the mouth that does not go away after two weeks should be evaluated by a dental professional.

Ignoring tooth sensitivity can lead to complications that affect not only your oral health but also your overall health. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with a dentist or a dental hygienist as soon as you experience tooth sensitivity. Early intervention can help manage the symptoms, treat the root cause, and prevent further damage.

dentist reviewing xray

Talk to Your Dental Team at Advanced Indiana

Tooth sensitivity can be uncomfortable and painful, but it is often treatable if diagnosed and managed early. If you experience tooth sensitivity, it is essential to take it seriously and talk to your dental care team here at Advanced Indiana in Fortville, IN. We’ll evaluate your oral health and come up with a treatment plan that’s right for you. We’ll even do an oral cancer screening to help rule this out. To request your next dental appointment, contact us online or call us at (317) 485-7000.