At the end of the day, all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee and prepare to binge-watch your favorite TV show. Unfortunately, the moment you take a sip, searing pain radiates within one particular tooth causing you to grasp for your cheek and nearly miss pouring your coffee on your lap. Why are you suddenly facing such extreme discomfort? Should you call your dentist’s office for an emergency visit? Take a few moments to find out what might be causing your tooth sensitivity and how best to treat it before the pain worsens.
The Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
To understand how sensitivity occurs, you must first have an idea about the structure of the tooth. When living with healthy teeth, you will notice there is a top layer called the enamel, which serves as a barrier between bad bacteria and the inner, more vulnerable layers. Underneath the enamel is the cementum, which protects the tooth root, and beneath that is what is known as dentin.
This inner layer (dentin) is much less dense and can be easily penetrated should bacteria and/or infection occur. Should your gums begin to recess because of gum disease, or the enamel of your teeth become worn, your dentin layer can become exposed. As a result, when you take a sip of hot coffee or indulge in a bowl of ice cream, the temperature of these foods can reach the nerves within the dentin and cause feelings of sharp pain.
The most common causes of tooth sensitivity include:
- Gum disease
- Exposed tooth root
- Worn down tooth enamel
- Cracked or fractured tooth
- Tooth decay
- Worn fillings
Emergency Dentist or At-Home Remedy: What Should You Do?
When faced with tooth sensitivity, you may wonder how best to treat it. Should you seek a dentist who offers emergency dentistry or stick to some of the more commonly known at-home remedies? The answer is dependent upon how severe the situation might be. If you are dealing with gum recession, a cavity, or cracked tooth, you will need professional help to fix the problem.
After examining your oral cavity, your dentist might suggest everything from in-house fluoride treatment to a dental crown, inlaying, or direct bonding. If necessary, you may require a gum graft to provide coverage to the tooth root.
Once your dentist has provided the appropriate method of treatment, you will need to invest in a toothpaste that is designed to reduce sensitivity as well as strengthen tooth enamel. This will not only protect your teeth from decay, but it will allow you to consume some of your favorite foods and beverages again.
If that sharp, searing pain occurs, don’t wait to seek help. Talk to your emergency dentist sooner rather than later and get the care you need to repair your smile.
About the Author
Dr. Matthew Nawrocki completed his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree at the University of Florida College of Dentistry before earning his specialist certificate in prosthodontics. He also completed a master’s degree in dental science and became board-certified eligible in May 2012. As a skilled dental professional, he and his team strive to provide patients with the highest level of care. When problems like tooth sensitivity occur, he will not only provide in-office treatment, but he can also recommend products and at-home remedies to help you find relief from the pain. If you are suffering from this common dental problem, contact us at (904) 272-1588.