One of the most common health problems in the world is cavities. They are damaged areas in the hard surface of the teeth that lead to small holes or openings. Tooth sensitivity is related to cavities. However, not everyone with sensitive teeth will get cavities.
What is tooth sensitivity?
This occurs when the protective enamel on your teeth thins out or your gums recess to expose the underlying dentin (the surface under the enamel). The dentin is made up of microscopic tubules that contain tiny nerve endings. The enamel protects the dentin on the crown part of your tooth, while cementum protects the dentin that extends down to your tooth’s root. When dentin can’t do its job because of worn enamel or cementum, your teeth become sensitive because the nerve endings become exposed.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are caused by tooth decay and tooth decay has many factors. The most common cause of tooth decay is bacteria in the mouth. Other factors of tooth decay are drinking sugary drinks like soda, not keeping up with a regular teeth cleaning routine, excessive acid from frequent heartburn, dry mouth, tooth location (cavities are usually found in back teeth), age (cavities generally occur in children, teenagers and seniors), poor diet and excessive plaque buildup.
What are the symptoms of cavities?
Depending on the extent of the cavity and where it is located, the symptoms may vary. Tooth sensitivity is a common symptom of cavities along with: toothache; sharp pain when drinking hot, cold or sweet foods; holes or pits in your teeth that you can actually see; brown, black or white stains on the surface of your tooth; and severe pain when biting down.
What do I do if my teeth are sensitive?
Tooth sensitivity needs to be addressed by your dentist. Although you may not have cavities and just teeth that are very sensitive to hot and cold due to worn enamel, you should schedule a checkup with your dentist. Over time, tooth sensitivity can get worse and you will have even more trouble eating and drinking. There are toothpastes available for people with sensitive teeth. Your dentist will let you know if there is a brand he/she recommends or if you need a different treatment like having a cavity fixed. In the meantime, you can try pressing a warm compress to your sensitive tooth for temporary relief.