Anyone who’s bitten directly into an ice cream cone can tell you that teeth aren’t invincible against temperature. However, if you’re finding yourself passing on your favorite hot or cold treats because of how much they make your teeth hurt, you may have overly sensitive teeth. While this condition doesn’t necessitate a trip to your emergency dentist right now, it could be the first warning sign of bigger problems on the horizon. Find out what’s causing your sensitive teeth and what dental emergency they might be trying to warn you about.
Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?
The crowns of your teeth are protected by a durable shell of enamel, and below the gumline the roots are covered by a tough mantle of cementum. Underneath them lies the sensitive inner parts of your tooth. This includes a layer of microscopic tubes called dentin as well as the tooth pulp and nerve. If your enamel or cementum are weakened, damaged, or worn down, the inner layers become exposed and hypersensitive.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Sensitive teeth are usually the result of:
- Worn down enamel, which reveals the layer of dentin underneath. This can be caused by bad habits that exert extra pressure on your teeth, like nail biting or chewing on ice.
- Tooth damage or decay that has reached the inner parts of your tooth to irritate the nerve. This includes cavities, cracks, and sometimes damaged dental work.
- Exposed tooth roots, usually from gum recession. Over-aggressive toothbrushing and gum disease can both cause the gums to pull away from the roots.
Are Sensitive Teeth an Emergency?
There’s no need to panic if you experience tooth sensitivity. However, it should be brought to your dentist’s attention because it may be the first warning sign of a dental emergency like:
- A broken tooth. A small crack in the enamel that causes sensitivity may get larger over time and cause the tooth to fracture.
- An infected tooth. If a tooth’s sensitive pulp and nerve are unprotected from hot or cold temperatures, they are also susceptible to bacteria and infection.
- Tooth loss. Tooth sensitivity caused by gum recession could be a symptom of progressing gum disease. If this infection is left untreated, it can destroy the connective tissues that hold your teeth in place and cause them to fall out.
Even if your tooth sensitivity only lasts a few moments, don’t put it out of your mind until the next time you eat ice cream or drink hot coffee. Telling your dentist about your sensitive teeth now could prevent dental emergencies in the future.
About the Author
At Center One Dental in Canonsburg, PA, we are dedicated to preventing problems before they become larger issues. Dr. Raj Vekariya can help you identify and treat whatever is causing your tooth sensitivity so you can get back to enjoying your favorite hot or cold treats. If your sensitive teeth lead to a dental emergency, we offer late and weekend hours and will do our best to see you the very same day you call. To learn more, contact us at our website or at (724) 300-3700.