One of the most common tooth problems is sensitivity. It can present itself from barely noticeable to excruciating pain.
Types of Tooth Sensitivity
One of the most common tooth sensitivities is to cold drinks and food. Our teeth have nerves that provide a protective mechanism against extreme temperatures and to avoid damage to the tissues.
Problems occur when you feel cold sensitivity to room temperature water or beverages. This is an indication of gum recession or exposed roots which can become sensitive to dirt (plaque) on your teeth, where bacteria infiltrate the area causing inflammation and sensitivity. It is important to book an appointment for a thorough clean every 6 to 12 months.
Sensitivity to sweet foods might be an indication you have decay inside a tooth but has not created a hole, yet! Your tooth may look perfectly normal on the outside, however, a dental radiograph or x-ray would prove otherwise, indicating a dark shadow within the tooth that is causing the sensitivity.
If it is regular and constant, you should book a dental check up to determine the extent of the decay and get a treatment plan.
Hot and Cold Sensitivity
It is one of the most elusive of the sensitivities, coming and going and at different pain levels, making it difficult for the patient to pinpoint which tooth or which area of the mouth in particular the pain is coming from.
As time passes, the infection localises at the base of the affected tooth, aiding in its identification.
Hot and cold sensitivity occurs when the inner pulp (nerve bundles) of the tooth gets infected and starts to die. Since the pulp doesn’t have location-identifying (proprioceptive) fibres, it becomes difficult for the patient and dentist to sometimes identify the tooth. We will use multiple tests to determine the cause of such sensitivity.
Causes of Sensitivity
- The most common cause of sensitivity is a build-up of plaque and calculus present around the teeth. This irritates nerve fibres causing inflammation. It is important to get your teeth checked and cleaned professionally every 6 -12 months.
- General wear to the surface of your teeth (enamel) due to factors such as abrasion, erosion, or grinding/clenching leads to exposure of your dentine and nerve fibres. The demineralization/deterioration of enamel can be from acidic substances like soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices, (including lemon water) or medical conditions such as acid reflux.
- Decayed or damaged teeth may also lead to sensitivity, ranging from mild to severe pain.
In all cases is it important to get regular check-ups and cleans every 6-12 months. This helps identify problems early, obtaining advice on how to maintain good oral hygiene and hopefully resulting in less treatment required, saving you more money overall.
Treatment of Sensitivity
The most common treatment is a thorough clean; we also may recommend specialty toothpastes or creams to increase the strength of your enamel against the attacks of sugary drinks and snacks or prescribe specialty mouthwashes to use for a short period.
Later stages may involve restorative treatments like fillings progressing onto more complex treatments like root canals and crowns.