Everyone experiences an occasional toothache from time to time. You probably wouldn't even seek treatment for a minor, isolated toothache that rapidly vanishes. You might just make a mental note to mention it to your dentist during your next checkup. A sharp toothache that flares each time you bite down on something is another story. This requires a dental appointment to pinpoint the cause. But what about a toothache that's not especially bad while still being a constant presence in your life—one that seems to be triggered by the temperature of your food and drink?
A Reaction to Temperature
Thermal sensitivity is a toothache that seems to be directly related to the temperature of your food and drink. It may only make itself known when you eat and drink certain things. While cold and warm items won't provoke a reaction, anything at extreme ends of the temperature spectrum might, such as ice cream or a hot cup of tea. Why does the temperature of what you eat and drink sometimes cause a toothache?
Your Dental Nerves
Most of a tooth's structure is made up of dentin, which is coated with dental enamel—a tooth's primary physical protection against decay and deterioration. The dentin encases the pulp chamber, which is the tooth's living nerve. It's this nerve that is registering thermal sensitivity. It can do so due to the fact that the dentin surrounding it has a number of tiny canals leading from the exterior of the dentin to the pulp chamber. When there's an issue with your dental enamel, the tooth's nerve becomes all too capable of registering thermal sensitivity.
Thin and Worn Dental Enamel
So why isn't your dental enamel protecting the entrances to these canals, preventing your dental pulp from registering the discomfort associated with the temperature of your food and drink? Some people are more susceptible to this form of sensitivity when their enamel is naturally thinner than average. You might also be experiencing enamel erosion, meaning your enamel is literally wearing away as the acidic compounds produced by the oral bacteria in your mouth attack your enamel.
Treating Thermal Sensitivity
Over-the-counter pain medication can minimise the toothache caused by thermal sensitivity, but it's not just a case of masking the symptoms. Your dentist will attempt to restore thin enamel with a process known as remineralisation, which often involves a fluoride varnish. A dentist can also patch deficient enamel with dental bonding, which is the application of a thin coat of dental resin to a tooth, creating a protective barrier that serves the same purpose as enamel. Your dentist may also recommend certain oral hygiene products that are specially formulated for sensitive teeth.
Sensitive teeth and the discomfort they can cause won't go away without assistance. In fact, the issue is likely to get worse as your dental pulp becomes more irritated, meaning a root canal might be unavoidable. If you experience thermal sensitivity, it's necessary to see your dentist to have your deficient dental enamel addressed. Contact a dental office like Queen Street Dental Care to learn more.