It Shouldn’t Hurt to Eat and Smile!

Cosmetic dentistry isn’t just about your teeth looking good – it’s also about them feeling good.

Cosmetic_DentistryNearly 40 million Americans report that they suffer from sensitive teeth, which are defined as teeth that respond more than usual to heat, cold, sweet food or drink, or being tapped or knocked. Similar to when the “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard flashes on, it’s important to have the cause of your tooth sensitivity determined and treated before more serious symptoms appear in your mouth.

Dr. Carol Ford, from her cosmetic dentistry practice in Phoenix, cautions that sensitive teeth shouldn’t be ignored just because it seems everyone else has them too. “It is NOT normal for teeth to hurt,” she says. “Sensitivity can be a symptom for a number of different dental conditions.”

Sensitivity can stem from many issues, and the type of sensitivity can be a clue to what is wrong. Gum recession – when gums pull away from the tooth and expose the root surface – can be at fault when your teeth seem sensitive to cold food and drink. A broken (fractured) tooth may be what is driving pain in a single tooth, as opposed to more general sensitivity in the mouth. Sensitivity to sweet foods may mean there is tooth decay at work, and pain caused by eating or drinking hot things may indicate damage to the nerves in the teeth.

Your dentist can help determine why your teeth are sensitive and provide treatments that reduce or eliminate the pain. He or she may discuss foods for you to avoid, or ask you to change to a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid wearing down your tooth enamel. A desensitizing toothpaste may be suggested, as well as a treatment that “coats” the teeth to protect them, such as a fluoride gel or varnish.

Another treatment for cases of serious sensitivity is a crown, which replaces part of a damaged tooth and can improve appearance and function. Porcelain crowns are the treatment of choice when much of a tooth’s enamel has been eroded or decay has destroyed most of the tooth. Since decay and enamel erosion are two major sources of dental sensitivity, crowns can often address these issues when other treatments have not been effective.

Your cosmetic dentistry provider should be one of the first persons you reach out to when you have sensitivity in your teeth.

“Sensitivity may be a common problem, but you don’t have to ‘just live with it,’” Dr. Ford says. “Your dentist can recommend the best treatment for you to experience a pain-free mouth.”

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