For a while now, you’ve had a sensitive tooth that reacts every time you eat or drink something sugary, hot, or cold. Normally, you’d call your dentist right away for an appointment, but amid the COVID-19 crisis, you aren’t sure what you should do. Your dentist is available for emergency dentistry, but does this situation count as an emergency? Is a sensitive tooth worth the risk? The answer depends on several factors. Read on to learn more about the causes of tooth sensitivity and how you can tell whether you need to contact your dentist as soon as possible.
Food Debris between Teeth
Sometimes bits of food can become lodged in the tiny spaces between teeth. This applies pressure to the teeth, causing soreness or tenderness. Before you reach out to your dentist for help, try flossing around the sensitive tooth to make sure that nothing is stuck. Within a few hours, the discomfort should subside. However, if the pain persists, then you know that the issue may be more serious.
Exposed Tooth Roots
The crowns of your teeth, i.e., the visible portion, are protected by a layer of enamel, which is the strongest material in your body. However, the root structure of your teeth does not have this layer. Instead, it has a more sensitive substance called dentin. Depending on your level of oral hygiene, the roots can become exposed either through gum disease or through rigorous brushing. As a result, when extreme temperatures or sweet substances come into contact with the dentin, you can feel anything from mild discomfort to sharp pain.
If your gum line has receded, there are several steps you can take. If you aren’t flossing every day, and if you aren’t brushing too hard, then the cause may likely be gum disease. In this case, you need to seek professional treatment soon to treat the problem. Without intervention, gum disease can escalate to damage to your jaw and even cause tooth loss. If you think you may simply be brushing too hard, use small, circular motions with a soft-bristled brush for two minutes twice every day. Also, consider using a desensitizing, fluoride toothpaste.
Whether through a dental injury or as a result of normal wear and tear, your tooth may have cracked. This in and of itself is not exactly the cause of your discomfort, but deep cracks can leave the pulp, where the tooth’s nerves are located, vulnerable to bacteria and extreme temperatures. In this case, you need to visit your dentist immediately to repair the broken tooth and prevent further damage. In some of these cases, a root canal may be necessary.
In its early stages, a cavity may not cause any pain at all and may only manifest symptoms as it starts to penetrate deeper into the tooth. A persistent sensitive or hurting tooth likely indicates that the decay has reached the dentin or even the pulp. At that point, root canal therapy can allow you to save the natural tooth.
As you take these steps, you’ll be able to gauge whether or not you need professional assistance. However, if you are unsure about the cause of your tooth sensitivity, it is better to be overly cautious and schedule an emergency appointment with your dentist than to wait until later, when more damage could be done to your smile.
About the Practice
Boyles General Dentistry & Implant Center in Midland has temporarily closed for all non-essential dental visits during the COVID-19 shutdown. However, Dr. Franklin Boyles, Dr. Stephen Boyles, and Dr. Ken Etheredge are still available for those with dental emergencies. If you have questions about sensitive teeth, or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, contact us by clicking here.