Whenever a tooth hurts or becomes sensitive, we want to do some investigative work. These sensations don’t belong, and they often indicate a potential dental health issue. In our Grayslake general and cosmetic dentistry practice, we routinely hear about sensitivity from patients of all ages. This alerts us to the need for personalized dental care and ongoing support for improved comfort. It also allows us the opportunity to teach patients more about their teeth so they can be empowered to care for the health of their mouth.
Potential Reasons for Sensitivity
- Compromised Enamel
The outermost part of a tooth is covered with enamel. Healthy enamel is incredibly strong. That’s why we can bite and chew and why, even though we’re not supposed to, we can use our teeth to open packages and bottle caps (by the way, don’t do this). Research suggests that enamel is weakened by acidity. Acidity can come from that can of soda or morning cup of coffee, and even from citrus fruits and salad dressings. As acid diminishes the thickness and overall strength of enamel, the second layer of tissue, the dentin becomes more reactive. When necessary, dental treatment can focus on improving overall enamel structure using fluoride or appropriate restorations.
- Compromised Tooth Structure
Sudden sensitivity or pain that lingers often suggests that a tooth or teeth have been damaged by decay. Another type of damage, one that may also be associated with decay, is a tooth fracture. In either situation, the weakened state of tooth structure can provoke sensitivity due to heightened responsiveness in the nerves of the tooth. When sensitivity is related to either of these problems, we can correct the issue by removing damaged tooth material and fortifying the tooth with a filling or other restoration.
- Compromised Restorations
We don’t normally assume that sensitivity can be tied to the restorations that are intended to prevent further tooth damage. Sometimes this can happen. An example of a compromised restoration could be an old amalgam filling that has been in place for several years. Amalgam is expandable. It also contracts. Over time, the way that the metal filling expands and contracts can alter its fit within the original cavity. To halt sensitivity in this situation, all we need to do is replace the compromised restoration.
- Compromised Roots
A final and common reason that teeth feel sensitive to hot and cold temperatures is that the roots have been exposed. Typically, the root area at the base of a tooth is covered by gum tissue. If the gingiva has been affected by plaque and the bacteria within it, this tissue may pull away from tooth structure. Receding gums can be treated with a deep cleaning or laser treatment to wipe out bacteria and improve adherence to teeth.
We can see you through the issue of sensitive teeth. Call our Grayslake office at (847) 223-5200.