Winter is the perfect time to enjoy warm drinks. Hot chocolate, coffee, and tea help take the chill out of cold weather. But for some people, warm drinks are not a comfort in the winter. For some, hot drinks can cause a great deal of tooth pain.
What causes tooth pain? And can you stop tooth pain once you have it?
Many of us say we have "sensitive teeth." This usually means we feel pain or discomfort in our teeth in certain situations. The causes may include:
- Drinking or eating cold things
- Drinking or eating hot things
- Eating sweets
- Touching the teeth with other teeth or the tongue
According to simplestepsdental.com, there are two types of tooth sensitivity. The two types are dentinal sensitivity and pulpal sensitivity.
Dentinal sensitivity is when the dentin of a tooth is exposed. The dentin is the middle layer of your tooth.
Dentin is made up of tiny openings called tubules. Inside each tubule is a nerve branch that comes from the tooth's pulp. The pulp is the nerve center of the tooth. When the dentin is exposed, cold or hot temperature can affect these nerve branches. This causes sensitivity.
Dentinal sensitivity is when the outer layers of the teeth are removed. This exposes the dentin part of your tooth. It can affect more than one tooth at a time. Some causes of dentin exposure include:
- Brushing your teeth too hard. This wears away the enamel layer.
- Poor oral hygiene. This may allow tartar to build up at the gum line.
- Long-term tooth wear
- Untreated cavities
- An old filling with a crack or leak
- Receding gums that expose the tooth's roots. Receding gums often are caused by diseases or by brushing too hard.
- Gum surgery that exposes a tooth's roots
- Tooth whitening in people who have tooth roots that already are exposed
- Frequently eating acidic foods or drinking acidic drinks
Pulpal sensitivity is a reaction of the tooth's pulp. The pulp is at the center of each tooth. Pulpal sensitivity usually affects only a single tooth. Causes include:
- Decay or infection
- A recent filling
- A high amount of pressure from clenching or grinding
- A cracked or broken tooth
If you feel pain when you bite, you may have a broken or cracked filling.
Both dentinal and pulpal sensitivity usually involve reactions to temperature or pressure. Sensitivity to cold or hot drinks is the most common symptom. If a single tooth becomes sensitive to heat, the tooth's nerve is dying. In this case, root canal treatment is necessary.
Your dentist will look at your dental history and will look at your mouth. You also will need X-rays to show if there is decay. An X-ray will also show if you have a problem with the nerve. Your dentist will ask about your oral habits.
Grinding or clenching your teeth can lead to sensitivity. Your dentist also will look for decay, deep fillings, and exposed root surfaces. A tooth may be sensitive to cold for several weeks after a filling is placed.
How long will it last?
After a deep filling is placed, the sensitivity may go away in several weeks. Sometimes the filling is too high and that puts too much pressure on your tooth. This may occur when you bite down on something. Your dentist can reduce the height of the filling. If the sensitivity does not go away over time, return to your dentist.
Sensitivity in more than one tooth may go away in a short time. But sometimes, it may continue. It depends on the cause of sensitivity. Every case is different. Some people have sensitive teeth for only a month or two. Others have the condition for years.
Preventing dental sensitivity
You might be able to reduce your chances of dentinal sensitivity by:
- Brushing twice a day and flossing daily
- Using a soft or ultra-soft toothbrush and brushing gently up and down. Do this instead of brushing side to side.
- Using a fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse
- Using a toothpaste that provides protection against sensitivity
- Getting treatment for grinding or clenching your teeth
Preventing pulpal sensitivity
If a tooth needs root canal treatment, there is no good way to prevent pulpal sensitivity. You just have to go to your dentist and get the needed treatment. Putting off getting a root canal is not a good idea. It may result in further problems.
So see your dentist to see what you can do to lessen your tooth sensitivity. And start enjoying both hot and cold drinks again.