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What Causes Tooth Sensitivity to Hot and Cold?

Many people have had the experience of taking a big bite of ice cream or gulp of hot chocolate, and instead of experiencing their wonderful sweet flavor, immediately felt pain in their teeth. Does this sound familiar to you? On this page, your dentist in Louisville is going to share the top 4 reasons your teeth might be sensitive as well as what you can do about it.

1. Exposed Tooth Root

child with sensitive toothAs a person ages, or if they have developed gum disease, their gums may start to slowly recede, revealing the sensitive enamel around the roots of the teeth. The enamel here is actually much thinner than the crown, so when exposed to certain temperatures, it offers less protection for the delicate nerve.

2. Dental Decay

cracked toothSometimes, dental sensitivity may be a sign of a more serious, underlying problem, such as undiagnosed tooth decay. When a tooth develops a cavity, the enamel becomes weaker, allowing outside temperatures to affect the internal nerve more, which can manifest as sensitivity and pain.

3. Cracked Tooth

smiling manThe enamel can also be weakened by a microscopic crack, and these can occur due to normal wear and tear or even an accident. Cracks can also be problematic because they potentially expose the internal structure of the tooth to bacteria, which can lead to an infection that can only be treated by a root canal.

4. Teeth Grinding

If a patient unconsciously grinds their teeth, particularly while they sleep (which is a condition called bruxism), this can also wear down the enamel and make the teeth more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.

What to Do About Dental Sensitivity

woman with sensitive toothFortunately, the answer to dental sensitivity isn’t simply to give up your favorite treats!

First, Dr. Stephen Remmers suggests switching to a sensitive tooth toothpaste, which you should be able to easily find at any store. These work by slightly numbing the teeth to help reduce discomfort. After brushing with one for about a week or so, you should start to feel a big drop in sensitivity.

However, if you still have really sensitive teeth after doing this, your next call should be to Dr. Remmers. In our office, he can perform an exam to find the underlying cause of your problem. If it’s due to dental decay or a cracked tooth, he can restore the tooth using a number of different treatments such as a filling or crown.

Or, if he believes that bruxism is the issue, he can recommend that you wear something called a nightguard to bed. This is a small, protective mouthpiece that fits easily over the teeth and provides a barrier to prevent them from grinding together during the night.

In the end, dental sensitivity can certainly be annoying, but it’s also very treatable. Try switching your toothpaste, and if that doesn’t help, just give Dr. Remmers a call, and he’ll be able to provide the solution you need!

To learn more about what causes dental sensitivity and how we can help you address it, contact us today.

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