Tooth sensitivity can keep you from eating foods that are warm, as well as foods that are cold. So long, popsicle! Take care, steaming piece of pizza! Many people express frustration at the presence of sensitivity. Numerous products exist to help people manage this problem and feel more comfortable to enjoy their favorite foods and beverages. The problem with having options to manage sensitivity is that you might miss the point of this symptom.
When teeth cry out as they come into contact with hot or cold temperatures, it is usually because something is wrong. That something wrong could be tooth decay. The breakdown of healthy enamel happens in steps. When you understand what those are, you realize how much time you have to address the issue of decay before extensive damage – and pain – occur.
- It is possible to see the demineralization of teeth, but only if you know where and how to look. Usually, it is the teeth at the back of the mouth that lose precious mineral content first, due to the shape of our molars. These teeth have high corners and a deep center. Here, food debris and bacteria become trapped. The more bacteria that accumulate and deposit acid onto the tooth, the more demineralized the tooth becomes. This may present as light brown spots or white spots on enamel. When dental treatment is conducted at this point, enamel may be protected through a deep cleaning and dental sealants, if needed.
- Enamel breakdown. The accumulation of bacteria and their acidic byproduct continually eat away the surface of a tooth. As a hole develops in the area of acidity, the tooth may become sensitive. This is because there is less of a buffer between the nerves of that tooth and the “outside world.” A small cavity can be repaired with a lifelike tooth-colored filling.
- Dentin decay. Dentin is the soft substance that sits behind enamel. Here, there are numerous tubules that travel through the tooth. When bacteria reach dentin, they have a more damaging effect on this soft material. Because dentin lies close to the pulp chamber, it may be necessary to cover the tooth with a dental crown after removing all decay.
- Pulp infection. Bacteria that reach the pulp chamber, the center of the tooth, typically cause infection quickly. It is in the pulp chamber where nerves are housed, which is why pain becomes intense if decay reaches this depth of tooth structure. Decay in the pulp chamber may need endodontic treatment followed by a dental crown.
Why wait for the pain to dictate your dental treatment? Contact our Grayslake office at (847) 223-5200 for friendly family dental care.