When you eat or drink cold or hot foods, do you experience incredible tooth sensitivity? Do mere thoughts of a cold smoothie or hot cup of tea make your teeth ache? Sensitivity to temperature is a sign that something isn’t quite right with your oral health. Determining the source of the problem is the first step to fixing it.
Here are just five reasons your teeth may be sensitive to hot or cold:
Cavities growing within your teeth can create sensitivity, often one of the first signs of tooth decay. The sensitivity to heat and cold often indicates that bacteria has reached the nerve of the tooth. At this point, your tooth may need a root canal.
Visiting your Johns Creek dentist every six months allows your dentist to keep an eye out for decay. Plus, keeping up with your dental appointments means you receive annual x-rays, which will show anything that’s happening below the surface of your teeth.
Gum Infection or Gum Disease
Bacteria lives in the mouth all the time, but it can grow out of control when you eat too many sugary foods or do not clean your teeth properly every day. Tooth sensitivity could be a sign of a gum infection, which means that bacteria has festered in hard-to-reach places and caused an abscess.
Tooth sensitivity can also be an indication of gum disease. Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, can quickly develop. Because gingivitis does not always exhibit major symptoms, it can be overlooked, especially if you haven’t been to the dentist for a while. Given time, however, the problem will turn into full-blown periodontal disease and your teeth and gums will be sensitive to just about everything.
Damaged Tooth Enamel
While cavities do their own kind of damage to your enamel, erosion of the enamel can be brought on by a diet filled with acidic foods and drinks. Enamel is the suit of armor for all that lives inside your teeth and under the gum line. Without strong enamel, your teeth are helpless to defend against hot and cold temperatures.
Tooth sensitivity can also be an indication of a crack in the tooth enamel. Usually, the crack must extend to the nerve of the tooth to create this kind of sensitivity.
If you are dealing with gum recession, whether due to gum disease, aging, aggressive brushing, or grinding your teeth, you already know your smile looks different than it used to. Your teeth will feel different too, and be far more sensitive to heat and cold, without enough gum to protect the teeth. When tooth roots are exposed, temperature changes will make you jump in pain.
Grinding and clenching of teeth often happens unconsciously during sleep, though this condition does occur during the waking hours as well. Unfortunately, unless you are exhibiting signs of jaw pain – or you have a partner who complains about your teeth grinding in the middle of the night – you may not know you’re doing the grinding. But clenching and grinding teeth can lead to enamel erosion and create stress fractures in the enamel that lead to tooth sensitivity.
You don’t have to live with tooth sensitivity. If you are dealing with discomfort or pain, especially when ingesting hot or cold foods or beverages, make your appointment with Dr. Mitul Patel at Family & Cosmetic Dental Care, serving Alpharetta, Suwanee, and Johns Creek.