If you occasionally experience a sudden flash of pain, or a mild tingly feeling when you bite into sweet or sour foods, or drink hot or cold beverages, you may have sensitive teeth. In healthy teeth, porous tissue called dentin is protected by your gums and your teeth's hard enamel shell. Microscopic holes in the dentin, called tubules, connect back to the nerve triggering pain when irritated by certain foods and beverages. Dentin can be exposed by:
- Receding gums caused by improper brushing or gum disease.
- Fractured or chipped teeth.
- Clenching or grinding your teeth.
In most cases, a simple change to your daily hygiene can treat the symptoms of sensitive teeth such as:
- Using a soft-bristle toothbrush to protect gums
- Using a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth that can either block access to the nerve or insulate the nerve itself.
- Using a fluoride rinse or gel for sensitive teeth, prescribed by your dentist.
Cavities develop when a tooth decays or breaks down. A sticky, slimy substance called plaque, is the cause and is made up mostly of the germs that cause tooth decay. The bacteria in your mouth make acids and when plaque clings to your teeth, the acids can eat away at the outermost layer of the tooth, called the enamel.
If left untreated, the decay may penetrate the root and enter the pulp (nerve) chamber, causing an abscess and requiring root canal treatment.
Today, the most common types of filling are gold; silver amalgam; or tooth-colored composite resin fillings.
Though cavities can be repaired, try to avoid them by taking care of your teeth. Here's how: