Have you experienced a toothache that wakes you up at night or keeps you from enjoying your food or beverage of choice? Sometimes a zing can simply occur when brushing your teeth. There are many factors that can cause tooth sensitivity. Healthy teeth with normal development have a nice layer of enamel, the white outer layer of the tooth above the gumline, which allows us to chew our food and protect teeth from sensitivity. The layer underneath the enamel is called dentin, which has very tiny tubules that can be a pathway for air, liquids, or acids to reach the nerve and cause hypersensitivity.
Conditions such as cavities, gum recession, cracked or fractured teeth, tooth defects, and worn fillings can cause sensitivity. The duration of sensitivity can sometimes give more clues to a diagnosis. Short, sporadic periods of hypersensitivity can often be managed by something as simple as switching to desensitizing toothpaste. Chewing pain can mean a cracked tooth that may require a crown and lingering hot or cold discomfort may signify that the tooth would require a root canal procedure. For those people with receded gums, many teeth can be involved with hypersensitivity. This situation may require the need for gum grafting surgery.
It is important to keep regular dental checkups. Your dentist can evaluate older fillings or gum problems that can lead to tooth sensitivity. When in doubt, contact your dentist at the earliest signs if you are experiencing problems with your teeth or gums for the best outcomes.