Tooth Hypersensitivity: What You Need To Know

4 November 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


With the cold air on its way as winter approaches, some Canadians are making sure their lips are sealed when they go outside. It's not because they're afraid they'll spill secrets; breathing through the mouth when it's freezing outside can cause tooth pain in people with tooth hypersensitivity. If you instinctively keep your lips shut when going out on a cold day or avoid eating ice cream or drinking hot coffee, this condition might seem very familiar to you. Here are some reasons why your teeth might be hypersensitive and tips on what you can do about it.

Gum Recession

As people age, it's common for the gums to begin receding. Another cause of gum recession is periodontitis, a form of gum disease. As the gums allow more of the tooth to be exposed, the normally protected dentin is now able to be touched by cold air and hot or cold liquids and foods. This can give you a "zing" as the sensation travels down your tooth and into your jaw.

Your dentist can apply a fluoride varnish to the exposed dentin; this provides a light coating of protection, similar to what the gums were providing before they receded. In severe cases, a surgical graft can be done to replace some of the missing gum tissue. In addition, you can try using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Ask your dentist for a recommendation.

Cracks and Crazing

If you have a habit of chewing ice, chomping down on hard candy (or pen caps) or grinding your teeth, you might have tiny cracks in the enamel, or outer layer, of your teeth. These tiny cracks are also called crazing. When hot or cold substances get into the cracks, you'll feel the jolt of pain as it hits your dentin.

As with receding gums, fluoride varnishes and toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help with pain caused by crazing. If it's one or two teeth in particular that are affected, a crown might also help, as it will protect the tooth by covering it in porcelain or metal. If you grind your teeth, a night guard will help you from inflicting more damage on your teeth while you sleep.

Dental Decay

When you feel a sharp pain in response to hot or cold and you can isolate the pain to just one tooth, dental decay might be to blame. You may have a cavity that is allowing the substance to reach the inner surfaces of your tooth. If you currently have a filling in place, it's possible that bacteria has leaked under the filling and is creating more decay.

A dental X-ray and examination can usually detect this type of problem. In some cases, the decay might have infiltrated the nerve of the tooth; when this happens, a root canal treatment might be necessary to stop the hypersensitivity and, ultimately, save the tooth from having to be extracted.

Tooth hypersensitivity can be frustrating, but there is most likely a treatment that will help. Talk to a dentist like Dental Services Franklin Dental Centre to learn about your options.