sensitivity is very common, and it’s not always a cause for concern. Often, you can just buy a desensitizing toothpaste, and after a few brushings your sensitivity will be reduced. However, before you can know whether your tooth sensitivity is something that can be treated with an over-the-counter toothpaste, you have to see a dentist to eliminate some potentially serious possibilities.

Metal Amalgam Fillings

Metal amalgam fillings can cause tooth sensitivity. Metal is a great conductor of heat, so metal amalgam fillings can conduct heat or cold into the center of your teeth, leading to sensitivity. Metal amalgam fillings also expand and contract at a different rate than your dental enamel, so a metal filling can also put pressure on your tooth nerve when exposed to heat. Finally, a metal amalgam filling may be compromised around the edges.

Remedy: Replace metal amalgam fillings that are causing sensitivity with better insulating filling materials, like composite or ceramic white fillings. Also check all fillings to make sure they don’t have decay around the edge..

Exposed Tooth Root

The part of your tooth that normally sticks up above the gums is protected by enamel that is resilient to changes in temperature and other stimuli, but your tooth root is designed to stay in the shelter of your gums. When your tooth root is exposed you may feel sensitivity.

Remedy: Depends on the severity of the problem. If it’s minor exposure, changing your oral hygiene routine may be enough to allow your gums to grow back. If it’s more than that, periodontal therapy may be necessary. At Rice Dentistry, we utilize advanced periodontal therapy that uses lasers and direct antibiotic injections to give quick and comfortable treatment that leads to rapid recovery.

Decayed or Infected Tooth

If your tooth has suffered significant decay, there is less enamel to protect your dentin and nerve from changes in temperature, which can make your teeth more sensitive.

An infected tooth is when bacteria have made their way into the tooth nerve. This can make your tooth very sensitive. You may experience lasting pain from hot or cold beverages or even minor pressure. The pain may become constant. Then again, some people have little discomfort from an infected tooth until the infection spreads to the jawbone.

Remedy: If you have a decayed tooth, tooth-colored fillings can be used to protect your tooth and reduce sensitivity. If you have an infected tooth, a root canal is recommended. In this procedure, the infected tooth nerve is removed. Then the tooth is filled with inert material and covered with a dental crown to protect it from further damage.

If you are suffering tooth sensitivity, don’t assume it’s nothing and go straight to the over-the-counter remedies. They may mask a potentially serious condition that is only getting worse. If you live in Irvine or surrounding areas of Orange County, please contact Rice Dentistry to have your sensitive teeth evaluated.