Tag Archives: toothache

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.

How to Handle Dental Emergencies

According to the American Dental Association, 2 million people visit the emergency room each year for dental emergencies. The problem with this is that most emergency rooms don’t have dentists to provide treatment, and most physicians aren’t able to provide dental care. Believe it or not, it is illegal for anyone other than a dentist to pull a tooth or fill a cavity, so they are only able to prescribe antibiotics or painkillers – which are only a temporary solution. 

If you are experiencing severe pain or swelling that spreads into your face and eyes or have jaw issues, then definitely head to the ER, otherwise here are some ways to deal with dental emergencies until you can get to your dentist or an emergency dentist.

  • Toothache

Toothaches are fairly common. Most dentists would advise against heading to the ER for a toothache unless your pain is unbearable. You should brush and floss your tooth to get rid of any excess food that could be causing the irritation and then rinse with warm water. You should then set up an appointment with your dentist, so they can get to the bottom of what’s causing your pain and discuss further steps. 

  • Knocked-Out Tooth

If your tooth is knocked out it’s important to save the tooth. When handling the tooth, try not to touch the root and clean it off. Next, try to put it back in the socket until you can get to your dentist. If you can’t keep it in the socket, put it in milk or in your mouth next to your teeth to keep it moist until you arrive at the dentist.

  • Facial Trauma

Trauma to the face can also cause dental injuries. If you experience facial trauma, you should ice the area to keep swelling down. A trip to the ER may be necessary before seeing your dentist to ensure that no bones are broken and you didn’t experience any other severe injuries. After taking care of other injuries caused by the trauma, consult your dentist to see if any further steps for your teeth are required.

The best way to prepare for a dental emergency is to try to prevent them if possible. Set an appointment to see your dentist every six months to avoid cavities, wear a mouthguard during sports, avoid chewing ice or other hard foods, and opening things with your teeth. If you do experience a dental emergency, stay calm and contact us so we can be there for you every step of the way.