When you take that first bite of a crisp apple or a steaming cup of cocoa, the last thing you want is a sharp, shooting pain ricocheting in your mouth. Yet, tooth sensitivity to pressure is a common issue, making something as simple as chewing an unexpected ordeal for many.
If you're one of those people who cringe at the thought of biting down on something hard or enjoying a hot or cold beverage, then this article is for you. Let’s delve into the possible reasons why you might be experiencing tooth sensitivity and provide some understanding of this surprisingly common dental issue.
Tooth sensitivity, clinically known as dentin hypersensitivity, is a common dental problem that involves discomfort or pain in teeth when encountering certain substances and temperatures. Underneath your tooth enamel is a porous layer called dentin. When your tooth's protective enamel is worn down, or your gums recede, it exposes the dentin, leading to sensitivity.
Why does exposed dentin cause such a fuss, you may ask? Well, the dentin is home to many tiny tubes that lead directly to the tooth's nerve center. These tubes allow hot, cold, sweet, or very acidic foods and drinks (or the pressure of biting down) to reach the tooth's nerve, causing a pain response.
Now, tooth sensitivity to pressure is a little more nuanced. This occurs when the act of biting down or chewing results in discomfort or pain. Several factors can contribute to this, and we'll explore a few of them next.
When it comes to tooth sensitivity, there are a number of possible causes at play. Let’s delve into each one to help get to the root of what may be causing your discomfort.
Tooth sensitivity to pressure is often a red flag for dental decay. When a tooth decays, the enamel is broken down, causing cavities or holes. These openings in your tooth enamel can expose the dentin layer, making your teeth sensitive to pressure.
But the plot thickens. If left untreated, the decay can advance to affect the innermost part of the tooth — the pulp, which houses nerves and blood vessels. The result? An intensified sensitivity, especially when you're biting or chewing food.
Tooth decay doesn't always announce itself with pain. Sometimes, sensitivity might be your first clue.
For issues stemming from dental decay, professional dental treatment is the key. This could involve fillings for cavities or root canal treatment for severe decay. Prevention of dental decay involves maintaining good oral hygiene — brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and attending regular dental check-ups.
Gum disease or periodontal disease is another potential villain in the tooth sensitivity saga. This condition occurs when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, builds up on teeth and hardens. In the early stage, known as gingivitis, the gums become red and swollen, and they may bleed.
However, as the disease progresses to periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth creating “pockets” that can become infected. This can eventually affect the root of the tooth, leading to sensitivity.
And here's the real kicker: often, sensitivity to pressure is more noticeable than sensitivity to hot or cold in the case of gum disease. This is because hard enamel doesn’t protect the exposed tooth roots and is thus more susceptible to pressure.
Deep cleaning procedures like scaling and root planing can help treat gum disease. In more severe cases, surgical treatments may be necessary. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits can help prevent gum disease and the sensitivity it can cause.
Next on our list of tooth sensitivity culprits is a cracked tooth or filling. If you've chipped a tooth or have an old filling that's lost its prime, you may start noticing a sharp pain when biting down. This happens because the crack or faulty filling can expose the dentin or even the pulp, resulting in sensitivity.
Additionally, if the crack extends down to the root, extreme discomfort can be felt due to the pressure change when biting and releasing. It's a bit like having a pebble in your shoe: It doesn't cause much trouble until you step on it.
For sensitivity related to a cracked tooth or filling, your dentist can recommend appropriate treatments for a cracked tooth or a faulty one, such as repairing the tooth with a crown or replacing the old one. Regular dental check-ups can ensure early detection and treatment of such issues, preventing the onset of sensitivity.
You might not even know you're doing it, but grinding your teeth, known as bruxism, is a common cause of tooth sensitivity. The chronic pressure and friction can wear down the enamel, exposing the dentin and making teeth more susceptible to sensitivity, especially to pressure.
It's like constantly rubbing your hand against rough sandpaper. Over time, it will start to hurt. Similarly, your teeth react to the relentless wear and tear caused by grinding and clenching.
If your tooth sensitivity is due to bruxism, your dentist may recommend wearing a mouthguard at night to protect your teeth from further wear and tear. Stress-reducing activities may also help, as stress is a common cause of teeth grinding.
Often linked with gum disease but also a common result of aging, harsh brushing, or genetic factors, receding gums can result in tooth sensitivity. As gums recede, they expose a part of your tooth that's not covered by hard enamel (think of it as your tooth's protective shield).
This part of your tooth, known as the root surface, is more sensitive to all kinds of stimuli, including pressure. Think of it like wearing a hat on a cold day. Once you remove the hat (your gums), your head (the tooth) is going to feel a whole lot colder.
Treatments for receding gums can range from deep cleaning the affected area to medications, and even surgical procedures in severe cases. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and brushing gently can help prevent further gum recession.
Sometimes, the very treatments intended to help your teeth can cause temporary sensitivity. Procedures like fillings, crowns, and tooth bleaching can irritate the tooth nerve, causing mild sensitivity to pressure.
However, this sensitivity is usually temporary and should subside on its own within a few days to a couple of weeks. Consider this a case of “short-term pain for long-term gain.”
While post-procedure sensitivity usually subsides on its own within a few weeks, it's best to consult your dentist if you’re experiencing ongoing persistent discomfort. They may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste or another treatment depending on the situation.
This might seem out of left field, but sinus infections can cause tooth sensitivity, particularly in the upper rear teeth. This is because these teeth are located near the sinuses, and pressure from a sinus infection can cause discomfort and mimic tooth pain. When the infection clears up, this pseudo-tooth sensitivity usually resolves too.
When it comes to oral health, prevention is key. The importance of regular oral hygiene (brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist regularly) cannot be overstated. These simple steps can prevent many of the causes of tooth sensitivity from developing in the first place.
Once you understand the root cause of your discomfort, whether it's dental decay, gum disease, a cracked tooth, or one of the other causes we've discussed, you can work with your dentist to find the right solution.
There's no need to continue suffering from the pain of tooth sensitivity when effective treatments are available. Armed with knowledge about the potential causes and a commitment to preventative care, you can take significant steps toward alleviating the discomfort and improving your oral health.
The first step towards conquering tooth sensitivity is recognizing the causes, but what comes next? That's where Flossy steps in, bridging the gap between recognizing a problem and finding an affordable solution.
With Flossy, scheduling an appointment with a trusted dentist is as easy as a few clicks, allowing you to connect with a dentist who can help diagnose the root cause of your tooth sensitivity and provide a targeted treatment plan.
No insurance? No problem here! Flossy is here to help dismantle the financial barriers that often prevent individuals from receiving essential dental care.
With a unique pay-as-you-go service, Flossy eliminates the need for insurance, making the process of caring for your oral health as simple and transparent as possible. Flossy can help you save up to 50% off your dental care. That means you can focus on getting better, not on how you're going to afford it.
If you’re suffering from tooth sensitivity, there’s no need to grin and bear it. Affordable care is just a few clicks away.
Get started by using the Flossy app to schedule an appointment with a nearby dentist and access the relief you deserve. Remember, a world with less tooth sensitivity is a world with more bite!
Interested in learning more about how Flossy can support you in your oral care journey? Discover more resources for a brighter smile at our article resource center.