Tooth sensitivity can make you worry that a root canal is in your future, but even deep and throbbing sensations can be triggered by far less severe dental problems. Visiting the dentist is not always necessary for short-term tooth sensitivity because you may be able to figure out the cause on your own. Of course, there are just as many causes that do require a dentist’s help to fix. Your painful responses to cold drinks and hot foods could be caused by any of these five triggers.
Any habits that damage the clear protective layer of enamel on the outside of your teeth will lead to sensitivity. This can include chewing on pen tops or other hard objects, eating too many acidic foods and drinks, soda consumption, chewing of sunflower seeds and tobacco, and more. Some people are also born with weak or missing enamel and experience tooth pain from an early age. If your enamel damage can’t be stopped or is too serious, the dentist can apply a sealant to offer a new coating to protect the nerves.
Chips and Cracks
As with missing enamels, even microscopic cracks in damaged teeth can stress the internal nerves of a tooth and cause pain. This kind of pain is often experienced as sensitivity, but may also come and go or become constant if infection sets in. Chips also have a chance to create the same kind of pain when the damage goes deep enough. Having a dental inspection after a car accident, fall or other jarring impacts to your mouth can catch these problems early.
Since chips and cracks can cause sensitive reactions, it’s not surprising that cavities can do the same. Allowing a cavity to go too long without filling increases the chances of it reaching the root and causing a serious infection that is best treated with a root canal. This is why it’s so important to stick to the usual six month routine for cleaning at the dentist’s office. Once a cavity is reacting to temperatures and sugar, it’s a sign that it’s deep enough to reach the nerve tissue. It’s better to have your teeth checked before anything is visible or causing pain instead of waiting that long.
With a little inspection, your dentist can quickly determine whether you’re clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth or not. Many people do it unconsciously in response to stress, and nighttime tooth grinding has become a common problem in recent decades. Grinding the surface of the teeth down wears the enamel away and creates sensitivities. Leaving the problem along results in further damage like broken roots, cracked molars, and more.
Finally, your whitening toothpaste or those home whitening gels could be the source of your new dental pain. Sensitivities are a known side effect of these treatments, and many home products cause lifelong sensitivity that must be treated with regular applications of numbing toothpaste and creams. Stick to professional whitening only for a much lower risk of these kinds of unwanted side effects.