Is Tooth Sensitivity a Warning Sign
Warm weather is (finally!) peeking around the corner, which is cause for celebration! Perhaps you’re going to get a hand-scooped ice cream cone to welcome the sun-filled days. As you choose from the array of flavors, you’re giddy with excitement, like a kid on the first day of summer break. You step out into the glorious sunshine, take that first bite of cold, creamy goodness . . . and WHAM! Your sweet treat turns into a horrible sensation as tingling pain rockets through your teeth. What happened, and how concerned should you be?
Tooth sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity, affects between 40 and 50 million American adults. It’s common enough that we might shake it off and simply avoid certain trigger foods – often extremely cold or extremely hot – or try to ignore thoughts of what might actually be the underlying cause (there’s my confession, folks).
Why do I have pain?
As enamel wears off the tooth’s surface, it exposes a softer layer called dentin. Dentin is comprised of tiny channels that route to the tooth’s nerves; when the protective enamel layer is worn down and the tooth is exposed to hot, cold, acidic, sweet, or sticky foods and drinks, the result can be discomfort or shooting pain. Tooth sensitivity can affect one tooth, a section of teeth, or all your teeth.
What causes the pain?
Dentin can be exposed in one or more teeth by a myriad of things, ranging from something as simple as scrubbing too vigorously with a hard-bristled toothbrush, to gingivitis or other gum disease that reveals dentin at the gum line. Cavities reduce the hard, protective enamel layer and expose dentin. Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can have the same effect. Certain acidic foods and even mouthwash containing acids will eat away at enamel. And the list goes on!
What can I do about it?
Give us a call to schedule a dental visit! We need to determine the actual cause of sensitivity in your unique situation. Although each instance of pain is temporary and sensitivity may not always be present, once dentin has been exposed, sensitivity will not just disappear. Treatment is required to combat the effects of exposed dentin. And, since sensitivity can be caused by so many things, remedies must address the root cause (see what I did there?), or there won’t be any improvement. Treatments aren’t necessarily invasive or expensive, either – it all depends on what your dentist determines the cause to be.
The long and short of it: tooth sensitivity IS a warning sign that something has worn down the layers designed to protect your teeth, but it’s probably not something to panic about. Come see us in order to identify the cause, discuss treatment, and get back to thoroughly enjoying your spring and summer celebrations.
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With over 10 years of dentistry experience in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Larsen Family Dentistry provides personable, quality, and affordable dental care to men and women of all ages. If you're looking for high quality and personal service, you've come to the right place. It is our passion to keep your smile healthy and beautiful.