Have you ever bit into an ice cream bar and felt a jolt of pain shoot through your tooth? This excruciating symptom is known as tooth sensitivity. It can feel debilitating though intermittent. So does this qualify as a dental emergency?
If you feel tooth sensitivity pain, you should let your dentist know as soon as possible. Read on to stay informed about where tooth sensitivity comes from and how your dentist can alleviate this symptom.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity Pain?
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the underlying dentin layer of your tooth becomes exposed. This layer contains nerves that send pain signals to your brain when stimulated by external elements, especially hot, cold, or sugary items.
Normally, dentin is shielded from exposure by enamel, the outer shell of the tooth. However, though durable, enamel can erode for a number of reasons. Poor oral hygiene can mean plaque eats away at your enamel, but aging and wear and tear can cause enamel to weaken too.
Tooth sensitivity can also signify a major dental problem, like tooth decay, has damaged your smile. Your dentist can address the cause of your pain and provide treatment to resolve the issue. Enamel cannot regrow or regenerate, so you will need intervention from your dentist to relieve tooth sensitivity.
When Should I Call My Dentist?
Tooth pain of any kind is not normal. You should not ignore this symptom or suffer through the discomfort. Call your dentist as soon as you can if you experience tooth sensitivity pain. They may provide pain relief advice over the phone to you.
Though you may not always feel this symptom, it could point to a larger dental problem that could require prompt treatment from your dentist. Your dental professional may ask you to come to their office for an emergency evaluation of the affected tooth.
How Will My Dentist Treat Tooth Sensitivity?
The treatment for your tooth sensitivity may vary depending on the cause of this symptom. For patients with mild sensitivity, a dentist may suggest using desensitizing toothpaste. When used as directed, this will block nerves from sending the pain signals that cause this symptom.
A cavity can also give a patient sensitivity pain. Dentists treat this problem by drilling away the decay and giving the patient a dental filling.
More advanced tooth decay and severe cases of enamel erosion may need a dental crown. As mentioned, lost enamel will not regrow, but this ceramic cap can cover a damaged tooth, replacing the enamel. This will shield dentin once again and stop this pain.
After your treatment, be sure to take care of your smile and your dental work. If a crown or filling breaks or falls off, dentin can become exposed once more and you will feel sensitivity pain. For this reason, you should not delay letting your dentist know about this type of dental damage as well.