A favorite outing for you for years has been to attend the home games of the University of Colorado. Buffalo football is in your blood, and you have fond memories of each season. Recently, though, you haven’t been able to enjoy yourself at the games because of your sensitive teeth. You’ve noticed that as the weather has gotten colder, sometimes a chilling wind will cause sensitivity in your front teeth. What’s worse is that when you take a sip of your famous homemade hot chocolate, the same thing happens. You’re wondering what’s going on. Thankfully, your dentist in Longmont has some information to share on what causes this problem.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is the momentary discomfort associated with thinning of the enamel, which leaves the dentin (softer layer beneath) and pulp (very sensitive area within the inner core) exposed. Therefore, food and drinks that are hot or cold, sweet or acidic can cause a jolt of pain.
The Difference Between Sensitive Teeth and a Toothache
A toothache is a more severe and sustained pain due to tooth decay. Tooth sensitivity, on the other hand, is more like a warning of pending danger, as the discomfort typically is shorter lived, but enough to get your attention.
What are the Causes?
There are a few causes for tooth sensitivity:
- Receding Gums – This leaves your root surface exposed, allowing nerves to be stimulated and cause pain.
- Tooth Grinding – Also called bruxism, this can occur while sleeping or when you are stressed. The grinding wears down your tooth enamel leaving you open for painful sensations.
- Chipped Tooth or Fracture – This leaves the softer, more sensitive dentin exposed.
- Tooth Whitening – Some over-the-counter whiteners can cause problems if overused. They contain bleaches that if not applied properly, can wear down tooth enamel, which is why it’s important to allow your dentist to guide you through the whitening process.
- Orthodontics Fillings – You may have an old filling that is worn down or pieces are missing. This leaves the nerves exposed and can cause discomfort.
The most important step to take when your notice tooth sensitivity is to notify your dentist. This will allow you to express what’s been happening, while giving your Longmont dentist the information he needs to develop the best treatment protocol.
By maintaining six-month visits for cleanings and checkups, and keeping the lines of communication open with your dentist, you are sure to prevent major dental issues and enjoy optimum oral health.
About the Author
Dr. Dan Mauer graduated from Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas) with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. He then went on to the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Dan is truly passionate about helping his patients achieve and maintain excellent oral health. He practices at Longmont Complete Dentistry and can be reached for more information through his website.