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Why is My Tooth Feeling Sensitive? 5 Possible Culprits

Do you feel a sharp pain in one or more of your teeth when eating or drinking substances that hot, cold, acidic, or sweet? Or does even breathing in the cold winter air cause your teeth to tingle? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people experience some type of teeth sensitivity every year. But this is a condition that, with help from a trusted local dentist, can be treated fairly easily, depending on the basic cause for sensitivity.

Patients in Wasilla and Palmer, AK can request an appointment with Meridian Dental to learn more about the source of their tooth sensitivity. In most cases, the problem is the result of one of the following culprits.

But first, understand that your tooth is equipped with features to protect itself from extreme temperatures, tastes, or other stimulants. It contains a protective enamel layer at its crown and neck. Your tooth also has a thin cementum layer and surrounding gums to protect the tooth’s root. When these layers start wearing away, your tooth’s sensitive dentin layer and its roots become exposed to the elements. When this happens, you begin to notice it acutely by those tooth pains we are all too familiar with.

Illustration depicting the internal structure and layers of a tooth

Potential Causes of Sensitive Teeth

So what breaks down those layers or makes the sensitive parts of your tooth vulnerable to the elements?

1. Cracked Teeth

A crack in your tooth can open the way for decay to build up and weaken the entire tooth structure. This may be a large crack formed by years of grinding teeth, a sudden trauma, or a fracture so small you can hardly notice it or get a toothbrush in it to clean them out. But without restorative dentistry, a little fracture can become even more painful in the future.

2. Cavities

Another culprit may be all that Halloween candy coming back to haunt you. Sugar and plaque can build up in and around your teeth, forming cavities. If just a single tooth is experiencing sensitivity, a cavity will often be the reason behind the pain.

3. Receding Gums or Periodontal Gum Disease

Enamel doesn’t coat teeth much lower than your gum line. So when gums begin to recede, whether due to gum disease, plaque buildup, or even excessive brushing, the cementum layer is exposed. Cementum is more sensitive to extremes it comes in contact with and only provides a small amount of protection for the even more sensitive dentin layer.

4. Root Infection

The root of the problem often lies with, well, the roots. Each outer layer of your tooth protects its roots which are the most sensitive part of your teeth. Sometimes, because of a cavity or cracked tooth left alone, an infection may make its way into your tooth. This can be extremely painful and needs quick attention from a dentist to preserve the tooth.

5. Acidic Diet

It may turn out that the acidic foods themselves are the reason behind why those foods and others are hurting your teeth. Whether that’s your daily Dr. Pepper, morning meal of grapefruit juice and scrambled eggs, or those cashews you munch on, these and other foods with high acidity are quick to break down that protective layer of enamel.

Treatment Solutions for Sensitive Teeth

Woman touching her cheek and experiencing tooth pain after biting into an ice cream barEach case is different, so each sensitive tooth treatment will vary from patient to patient as well. Seeking help from a general dentist or family dentistry practice should be the first steps taken to determine which treatment your teeth require.

Cracked teeth may need a protective cap so that the fracture doesn’t expand down to the roots. This can be done in a single appointment with same-day crowns. If you grind your teeth, your dentist may recommend a mouthguard to prevent more cracks from forming. For small cracks in the grooves of the tooth, a sealant coating may be enough to help keep teeth clean and free of decay.

A cavity, on the other hand, may just need a simple composite filling for the sensitivity to subside after a few days. For receding gums, Meridian Dental offers non-surgical gum treatment that cleans out the area and smooths roots so they can reattach to the gums and hopefully prevent more plaque. Gum grafts or a fluoride resin may need to be applied in other cases.

In cases when a root infection is causing your sensitivity and pain, a root canal usually is the prescribed course of action. A tooth crown may also be sculpted and placed on the tooth to help protect it and prevent additional infections. When consuming foods and drinks with high acidic levels, your dentist may encourage a diet that limits the number of acidic substances you eat or drink among other precautions.

Find Relief for Your Teeth at Our Wasilla Dental Office

Woman smiles in dentist chair before dental hygienist cleans and exams her teethIf you’re suffering from sensitive teeth, contact our Palmer and Wasilla, AK dentist, Dr. Kris Gurr, DDS. To prevent more complications down the road, come in as soon as you notice symptoms of sensitivity.

Our advanced family dental office in Wasilla serves patients throughout the Mat-Su Valley with regular dental health services, advanced dental procedures, as well as cosmetic dentistry. We’ll identify that main cause for your overly sensitive teeth and determine the best course of action for your particular situation. Come get the relief your teeth need at Meridian Dental!

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