Tag Archives: tooth sensitivity

Do I Have Tooth Decay? 5 Ways To Tell

Toothaches happen to the best of us. But signals of tooth decay can show up in other sneaky ways even before you feel pain. Knowing the signs of decay as well as understanding what a decayed tooth’s effect on your overall dental health might be are both important.

What Happens When You Have Tooth Decay?

Image via Flickr by bernardrodoms

Tooth decay is a damaged area of the tooth that shows signs on the outside of its hard surface. It’s one of the most common diseases people face, second only to the common cold. So what causes it?

Bacteria in our mouths, frequent enjoyment of sugary drinks and food, and improper teeth cleaning can all be culprits. These things alone or in combination can lead to plaque, which builds up on the teeth over time. Plaque releases an acid that breaks down the protective enamel on your teeth, and bacteria enter the tooth, causing decay. This can cause:

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is usually the first sign, and typically shows up as tenderness in the affected area when you eat or drink something hot, cold, or sweet. A toothache can result in intolerable pain if left untreated.

Change in Color

You may also notice changes in the color of the tooth. Brown or black spots and staining in the grooves of the teeth could be a sign of tooth decay. Even white or yellow staining could signify weakening enamel.

Bad Breath

If you have bad breath even after brushing your teeth, you likely have a cavity. Although the cavity isn’t the cause of the bad breath, the food stuck inside of it can be.

Pain When Chewing

Does it hurt when you bite down? This could be another signal of tooth decay. Exposed nerves happen when a tooth is decaying and can cause pain.

Bad Taste

A bad taste in your mouth could indicate a dental infection. Bacteria that enter the weakened part of your enamel could make their way to your tooth’s nerve, causing an abscess. Although these can form asymptomatically, it’s important to treat them immediately to clear up the infection.

How the Tooth Affects Overall Mouth Health

Now that you can spot tooth decay, how can it affect your overall mouth health? The sooner you have tooth decay or a cavity treated, the less invasive your treatments will be. Likewise, getting it filled as soon as possible could stop it from spreading to the rest of your mouth. If left untreated, decaying teeth can become infected.  That infection could eventually seep into your bloodstream and become life-threatening.  Tooth decay is not something to ignore!

The Importance of Seeing a Dentist

If you see any of these signs of a cavity, don’t hesitate to schedule a dental visit to repair your tooth. Letting the tooth decay any further could be not only painful but also detrimental to your overall health. If the idea of general dentistry makes you nervous, consider sedation dentistry options to ease your mind.

Here at Carolina Family Dentistry, we make sure you feel confident and comfortable seeing a dentist to repair your tooth. We’ll also be sure to work with your schedule to set up regular preventive dental visits to preserve your mouth health.

Tooth Sensitivity: The Hot and Cold Truth

Let’s say you are craving your favorite ice cream or a piping hot slice of pizza. The thought made your mouth water, and you had to have it. So you go to the store or the pizzeria, buy your food, and bring it home. You sit down and get ready to enjoy your food. You take one bite and…OUCH!!!

That first bite triggered a sharp pain in one of your teeth, and now your favorite food becomes your mouth’s worse enemy. You just learned the hard way that you may have tooth sensitivity.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

Before getting into what tooth sensitivity is, let’s start with an overview of the anatomy of your teeth. Healthy teeth have a layer of enamel protecting the crown of the tooth – the portion of the tooth above the gum line. The layer just under the gum line, or cementum, protects the tooth root. Then there is the dentin, which is the layer under both the cementum and enamel. 

Tooth sensitivity is often a result of the wearing away of your tooth’s enamel. As enamel wears down, the dentin’s tubules, or microscopic canals, are exposed and can allow hot and cold, acidic, or sticky foods to reach the nerves, creating hypersensitivity.

What Can I Do About My Tooth Sensitivity?

According to the American Association of Endodontists, some symptoms and remedies include:

  • Momentary sensitivity to hot or cold foods – Fleeting issues might not signal a serious issue unless sensitivity remains for an extended period of time. Try using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Brush with a soft/extra-soft toothbrush up and down. Brushing side to side can wear away exposed root surfaces.
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods after dental treatment – Recent dental work could possibly inflame the pulp inside the tooth, causing temporary symptoms. Wait two to four weeks and have your dentist or endodontist check for more serious problems if it persists.
  • Sharp pain when biting down on food – Pain may be caused by decay, a loose filling, a crack in the tooth, or possible damage to the pulp tissue. Speak to your dentist right away about any severe pain.
  • Lingering pain, typically lasting more than 30 seconds, after eating hot or cold foods – Pulp may have irreversibly been damaged by deep decay or physical trauma. See your dentist or endodontist.
  • Constant and severe pain and pressure, swelling of gums, and sensitivity to touch – The tooth may be abscessed and causing infection to the surrounding tissue and bone. Take over-the-counter (OTC) medications and schedule an appointment to see your endodontist for evaluation and treatment.
  • Dull ache and pressure in upper teeth and jaw – Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can cause this. A sinus headache may cause this as well. Consult your dentist for bruxism. Try OTC medication for a sinus headache and see your endodontist or physician if the pain worsens.

If you have any issues stemming from tooth sensitivity, call us to schedule an appointment to get to the “root” of the problem.