Tooth sensitivity is a common problem for people of all ages, but does it warrant a trip to an emergency dentist? Many factors can cause sensitive teeth, so it’s not something you want to ignore. It can be a symptom of a larger underlying oral health problem, like an infection, tooth decay, or a fracture. Depending on your situation, you may need to call an emergency dentist.
Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Teeth are composed of 3 layers. The soft pulp and dentin are the inner layers, which are protected by the hard outer layer called enamel. Enamel is the hardest substance in your body, but it can erode and break.
Unfortunately, the enamel doesn’t grow back. Any defects with your tooth’s defense system can cause sensitivity. Dental pain can be caused by many issues, including:
- Tooth Decay: Decay is a common culprit of sensitivity, which may only affect a single tooth, like when placing pressure on it. Eating or drinking anything hot or cold can trigger discomfort. If found early, a dental filling can treat decay and stop sensitivity.
- Enamel Loss: Thin enamel from aggressive brushing habits or years of wear and tear can cause the barrier between the outside elements and your dentin to be weakened. A Fluoride varnish, bonding, or veneers can help treat sensitivity caused by thin enamel.
- Gum Disease: Gum disease is an infection caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar buildup from poor oral hygiene habits. With no treatment, the infection can cause the gum lines to recede, exposing the roots of your teeth. Gum disease therapy will restore healthy tissue to prevent additional damage to your smile.
- Failing Filling or Crown: Fillings and crowns are made of durable materials, but they need to be replaced, eventually. An early sign of a failing restoration is tooth sensitivity, which can be triggered by chewing or consuming hot, cold, or acidic foods and drinks. Your dentist can replace the restoration to protect your tooth and stop your pain.
- Infections: An infection deep within your tooth can cause a throbbing toothache. A root canal will extract the infected tissue to rehabilitate the tooth. A dental crown is often placed over the tooth for an added layer of protection while restoring its function and appearance.
- Break or Fracture: Not all breaks or fractures are visible to the naked eye. Hairline cracks can cause tooth sensitivity. It’s important to have it treated or the entire tooth can break. Depending on the extent of the damage, your dentist can fix it with dental bonding, a crown, or another method.
- Bruxism: Grinding and clenching your teeth can wear away your enamel, increasing your risk of sensitivity. A nightguard provides a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth to safeguard your pearly whites.
When to Call an Emergency Dentist
Any tooth sensitivity should be evaluated by a dentist. If you suspect a failing restoration, fracture, or infection, contact an emergency dentist right away to prevent a small issue from turning into a big problem.
About Dr. Jasmine King
Dr. King has provided high-quality dental care since 2006. She achieved her dental degree at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry and has remained current with the latest advancements in dentistry. She is a proud member of many professional organizations, including the American Dental Association. If you have sensitive teeth, request an appointment through our website or call (817) 932-7978.