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Should Know If Tooth sensitivity can sometimes be a cavity, but other factors can also cause sharp and dull pain when exposed to hot or cold temperatures during a visit to the dentist.

Tooth sensitivity affects the pulp inside one’s tooth

Andrea Ferreira Zandona, chair of the Department of Comprehensive Care at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM), said that tooth sensitivity is common because the pulp inside a tooth has many nerve endings and is in a closed space, so any injury to it can only be responded to with pain. This pain can be caused by exposed roots, decay, or eating or drinking sweet or cold things. The tooth responds with pain because of specific nerve fibers and pain receptors.

The pain and sensitivity result when the enamel of the tooth breaks because of decay or dental caries. This exposes the soft layer called dentin, where nerves are located, causing the pain. Since cavities cause pain, one must visit a dentist for examination, especially if the pain persists.

TUSDM Chair of the Department of Periodontology Y. Natalie Jeong said that Individuals with sensitive teeth might experience sharp, temporary pain in their teeth when carrying out activities such as eating, brushing, and drinking cold beverages. The sensitivity may result from several factors, including exposed root, enamel wear, decay, chipped teeth, worn or defective restorations or fillings, or gum disease, which is common as gum recession.

What causes gum recession?

Gum recession occurs when the gums recede, exposing the tooth’s root, which can cause nerve irritation. Factors contributing to gum recession include bad tooth alignment, previous orthodontic treatment, gum disease, aging, and anatomy. Aggressive toothbrushing is the most common cause of gum recession.

Jeong recommends using a soft brush and visiting a dentist or dental hygienist for an exam if someone has receding gums. Additionally, for sensitivity, the first thing to do is talk to a dentist to understand what might be causing the sensitivity. The dentist or periodontist may suggest various options, such as at-home fluoride treatment or regular use of desensitizing toothpaste, depending on one’s situation.