The abundance of hot drinks, cold drinks, sweet treats, hard candies and other indulgences over the holidays sometimes leave us with more than just sugar-induced regrets; sometimes they reveal tooth pain and sensitivity.
Tooth sensitivity and tooth pain are common complaints. One or both can be an indication of dental problems that need attention.
Possible causes include:
- Tooth decay (cavities)
- Teeth fractures
- Worn-out fillings
- Gum disease
- Worn tooth enamel
- Exposed tooth root
In Medieval Germany, the prescriptive cure for a toothache was to kiss a donkey. Fortunately, we have better ways of addressing the problem today.
Healthy teeth are covered in a layer of enamel – the hardest substance in the human body. Nevertheless, as the enamel wears down or is somehow fractured, the sensitive dentin underneath is exposed to heat, cold and other irritants that cause pain.
Sensitivity can be treated, depending on the cause of the problem. Some of the treatments, according to the American Dental Association, include:
- Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
- Fluoride gel. An in-office technique that strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
- A crown, inlay or bonding. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
- Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
- Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.
Good, daily oral hygiene will help avoid many of the situations that give rise to tooth sensitivity and other problems. But if you have frequent sensitivity or ongoing tooth pain, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away.
Dr. Kreigh Sedillo, who graduated from UCLA School of Dentistry, has been practicing in Visalia for the past 10 years. His practice, Smile Visalia, is located on Caldwell east of Court.