Oral Health and Genetic Risk Factors

From Sensitivity to Cavity: Does Sensitivity Equal a Cavity?

Are your teeth more sensitive than usual lately? Are cold drinks sending jolts of pain through your teeth with each swig you take? Then, you should investigate. Although some tooth sensitivity is normal at times, sudden sensitivity can indicate that a tooth — or teeth — are succumbing to a dental cavity.

If you are worried that your tooth sensitivity means early-onset tooth decay, check your tooth for the following signs.

Enamel Erosion Heightens Sensitivity

One common cause of sudden tooth sensitivity is enamel erosion. The enamel of your teeth erodes naturally over the years due to exposure to acidic foods and the typical wear and tear that occurs while eating. However, in people who are especially fond of acidic drinks, such as cola or lemonade, enamel erosion occurs at a faster rate. One day, your teeth could be fine; the next, they might hurt.

This occurs because acidic drinks strip away the enamel of your teeth gradually until one day; the irritation caused by the acid in those drinks reaches the nerve in the centre of your teeth. This happens because the layer of tooth beneath enamel, called dentin, is filled with tubules. These tubules transmit sensation more easily than solid enamel.

When examining your teeth for enamel erosion, look for small, white spots. Small, white marks on your teeth are a sign of enamel erosion.

Gum Recession Causes Sensitivity

Gum recession can occur gradually, or it can occur suddenly due to trauma. When a section of gum recedes, it no longer protects the root of the tooth it once covered. As a result, you begin to feel more sensitivity than usual, especially when drinking or eating something cold. The roots of your teeth only have a thin layer of enamel to protect them, unlike the main part of a tooth.

If you have had a recent accident in which you hurt one of your gums, this could be the cause of the recession. When you irritate gum tissue, it pulls away from your teeth. Though it may grow back later, while in this state, you will experience heightened sensitivity. Gradual gum recession, which occurs over time, is a sign of something more serious.

Gum disease occurs when tartar, which was once plaque, spreads to cover the area beneath the gum tissue. Because tartar is acidic, it irritates gum tissues, causing them to pull away from the teeth. As a result, teeth feel more sensitive than usual. However, gum disease is serious. Unless you get dental treatment for it right away, gingivitis may advance to the more serious periodontitis.

Check your sensitive teeth, and look for gum recession. If one area of gum is much lower than the rest, this is a clear sign that you have gum recession.

Sensitivity is not always a sign of tooth decay or gum disease. However, you should still see your dentist. Not all dental problems are visible to the naked eye. Reach out to a dental clinic to learn more.