There are few things quite as refreshing as an ice cream cone on a warm day—but it might be tough to enjoy such a treat if you’re suffering from dental sensitivity! That said, how do you know if this sensitivity is an emergency that needs to be addressed swiftly? Keep reading to learn more from your emergency dentist about what causes dental sensitivity and how you should go about handling the situation.
What Causes Dental Sensitivity?
There are several different things that can cause tooth sensitivity, from piping-hot coffee to your favorite frozen treat. Healthy teeth have a thick layer of enamel that protects the crown portion, but underneath this enamel is a layer made of dentin. Dentin helps to preserve and regulate the nerves and cells inside of your teeth—and when this layer of dentin becomes exposed, it often results in hypersensitivity. Sometimes the sensation is mildly uncomfortable; other times, it can be debilitating. If you’re experiencing hypersensitivity, you might be affected by one of the following:
- A chipped or cracked tooth.
- Tooth decay that has led to cavities.
- An eroded dental filling.
- Gum disease.
- Worn tooth enamel.
- Exposed tooth root.
Is Sensitivity Considered an Emergency?
Dental sensitivity can be considered an emergency, but it depends on the circumstances. If you’re suffering from chronic pain, sensitivity that lasts for more than 20 seconds, or the sensation is affecting multiple teeth, you should contact your dentist without delay. One of the most common causes of hypersensitivity is tooth decay—which absolutely needs to be addressed by your dentist in order to prevent the issue from escalating.
However, if the sensitivity is short-lived and usually only occurs when your mouth comes into contact with hot or cold consumables, it usually isn’t a serious emergency and can be monitored to ensure it doesn’t worsen.
How Are Sensitive Teeth Treated?
Since dental sensitivity is a fairly common issue, there are many ways to address it! That said, it entirely depends on what the source of the issue is. Some common treatment options include:
- Desensitizing toothpastes – These contain compounds that can help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve.
- Fluoride gel – This is an in-office technique that can strengthen tooth enamel and also reduce the transmission of sensations.
- Dental crowns – Crowns, inlays, or even bonding can be used to correct flaws in teeth or cavities that result in hypersensitivity.
- Gum graft – If gum tissue has been lost from the root, a gum graft can be performed to replace it, covering the root once more and reducing sensitivity.
- Root canal therapy – This is arguably one of the best ways to salvage a compromised tooth; if the inner part of the tooth (the pulp) has become infected, your dentist will need to remove the infected part of the tooth before sealing it back up.
If you’re concerned about tooth sensitivity that isn’t letting up, don’t wait to get the help you need! Dental sensitivity can greatly disrupt your day-to-day; but it’s an issue that can easily be remedied by your dentist.
About the Practice
The team at Barker, Rohner & Hunt DMD is honored to serve the dental needs of the Raleigh, NC area. The practice is led by Dr. Brandon A. Hunt, Dr. Walter B. Rohner, and Dr. Bruce S. Barker. They combine decades of experience to provide their patients with an exceptional level of dental care and are proud to offer a wide range of available services including emergency dentistry. If you or a loved one is suffering from persistent dental sensitivity, don’t hesitate to call and schedule an appointment: (919) 847-7100.