We all know the feeling. A sharp unexpected pain when you bite into your sandwich, take a sip of water or a breath on a cool day. It does not feel good and can even make you wince. So, the question is- what happened? Why are my teeth suddenly sensitive?
While tooth sensitivity can happen for many reasons the root cause generally can be explained by one of a handful of common issues, which your dentist can expertly help identify by using a method called differential diagnosis. Differential diagnosis is a process that medical professionals use to correctly identify the cause of tooth pain in an instance where multiple alternatives are possible.
First, your dentist will need to know if the pain is associated with multiple teeth or one tooth. There are specific reasons for one or a few teeth to suddenly become sensitive such as a cavity, crack, fracture, receding gums, or an abscess. If one or more of your teeth have any of these issues then your dentist will help you identify the next steps to take and treatment options to help you get back on track with the goal of a pain free healthy mouth.
If none of your teeth have any of those described issues then your dentist will know that your teeth/tooth has become sensitive as a result of an outside factor such as:
Are you stressed? Even when we think we are dealing with our stress levels very well on the outside our bodies can still show signs of wear and tear as a result, and one of the first places to experience any discomfort is our mouths. We clench and grind our teeth when stressed, most of the time without even realize that we are doing it. Which is why when your jaw is tired and your teeth hurt it can feel like it came out of nowhere, when in reality it has slowly been building overtime. Have you ever woken up with a sore or tired feeling jaw and sensitive teeth? It’s because often times we do the most clenching and grinding in our sleep, and if we are not aware of it during the day it is almost impossible to be aware of it while asleep.
Have you been sick? Sinus colds will make all of your teeth feel very sensitive to any type of vibration from even the softest steps, or from the constant coughing and nose blowing. Also, the cough drops that we all have the best intention of only sucking on but sometimes crunch and chew after a while may have caused a crack or fracture.
Did you whiten your teeth? Using any type of teeth whitening products, whether over the counter or in your dentist’s office can result in a temporary sensitivity of your teeth.
Have you had any recent dental work? Sometimes, the slight change in your bite from a new filling or simply holding your mouth open for a longer period of time can cause you to begin to clench and grind your teeth causing tooth sensitivity and pain. This is why your dentist asks you to bite down on a colored piece of paper after a filling or crown. The colored paper leaves marks on your tooth surfaces recording your bite so that your dentist can see if all your teeth are hitting in the right spots. They also rely on you to tell them if it feels comfortable since sometimes our mouths can look fine but feel slightly off. It is also normal to feel like your bite is fine in the office but within a few days realize that it actually feels slightly off. Simply call us and we will get you right in for a bite adjustment.
Do I have to live with tooth sensitivity forever? Absolutely not! Luckily there are many ways that we can help you defeat tooth sensitivity! Occlusal guards can help relieve the clenching and grinding. Fluoride toothpastes and treatments, which are available in our office, will help protect and strengthen your enamel against sensitivity resulting from acidic foods and whitening. In office sealants and fluoride treatments will also help to prevent the development of cavities and reduce the likelihood of sensitivity due to tooth decay or compromised tooth structure. Most importantly if you are experiencing tooth sensitivity that you feel is negatively impacting your life and has not resolved with a bit of time and attention on your own, call us so we can help you get back to your life tooth pain free! The more information you can give the better and we have the years of knowledge to help you quickly get back to your life with stronger teeth and a healthier mouth!