If you have one sensitive tooth, then you should book an appointment with your dentist. There can be many reasons for a single tooth to be sensitive such as tooth decay, cracked tooth, loose filling, etc.
In this article, we will discuss the various causes which can result in tooth sensitivity and also talk about how to take steps towards prevention of the same.
Causes of single tooth sensitivity
Tooth decay causes sensitivity in the affected tooth. Anybody who eats sugar in excess and doesn’t maintain good oral hygiene can have tooth decay.
Tooth decay causes cavity due to the dissolution of the enamel layer by the action of bacteria on food items containing sugar to produce acids. The acid thus produced can cause decay in the tooth.
A deep cavity exposes the tooth nerve to the oral environment which causes sensitivity of the affected tooth. The symptoms include sensitivity when you drink something cold or hot, pain, staining of the tooth surface, and visible pits.
Regular dental checkup, maintaining a good oral hygiene routine will help you prevent tooth decay. If you eat food items containing sugar or have a habit of frequent snacking, then you are at higher risk of tooth decay.
Recent cavity restoration
If you recently got a filling done, then the tooth may be sensitive for a few days. Right after a filling, the tooth is still in its healing phase, and you may feel sensitivity while eating cold or hot foods and beverages or during chewing.
This sensitivity is temporary and will go away on a week or so. If the sensitivity persists even after two weeks, you need to visit your dentist for evaluation of the filling.
You may feel sensitivity after a restoration especially if the cavity is large and there was nerve exposure. You can try and avoid too hot and too cold food items and eat less sugar in your meals which will help control the sensitivity.
A cracked tooth can also cause sensitivity in a single tooth. If you feel sensitivity while biting down on food, then you may have cracked tooth. A brittle tooth can crack easily. Also, chewing ice, areca nuts, or hard candy can cause cracked tooth.
It is difficult to identify a cracked tooth since most of the cracks are hairline cracks. So, if you feel pain while chewing, or while biting on food, you should visit your dentist for a checkup.
If the crack is above the gum line, then a filling or a root canal therapy will suffice. If the crack extends beyond the gum line, then the dentist will extract your tooth.
A tooth abscess can cause tooth sensitivity. Bacterial infection causes pus formation, and this pus-filled pocket is called an abscess.
An untreated cavity or previous dental work (re-infection of a filled tooth, failed root canal therapy, etc.) usually cause a periapical tooth abscess.
Symptoms of tooth abscess include throbbing persistent tooth pain, sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures and also sensitivity when you bite or chew food.
Your dentist will drain the pus to get rid of the infection and perform a root canal to save the tooth if possible. In some instances, you will have to get the tooth removed.
You can prevent tooth abscess by maintaining oral hygiene which will prevent tooth decay (the cause of abscess).
Old and weak fillings
Old cracked fillings can cause tooth sensitivity due to micro-leakage. Over time, the old filling may chip off or crack due to general wear and tear of the tooth. Liquids and bacteria can enter through the gap between the filling and the tooth to cause secondary caries.
If you have bruxism, then your filling may fall out due to excessive pressure caused by grinding of opposing teeth.
If your filling falls off, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. If you delay treatment, then you may have to get the tooth pulled out.
The complete filling falling out is rare, but a part of the filling could break or chip off, and that is equally troublesome.
Precautions to prevent single tooth sensitivity
You can take care of your oral hygiene and alter some eating habits to prevent tooth decay, cracked tooth syndrome, etc. These preventive measures include –
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once daily. Use fluoridated toothpaste and a soft or medium bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth. Do not forget to change your brush every three months.
- Use an antimicrobial and alcohol-free mouth rinse once daily. Alcohol in the mouth rinse tends to dehydrate the oral cavity.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet and cut down on your sugar consumption and snacking in between meals.
- Visit your dentist for dental checkups twice a year. Your dentist will be able to identify the initial stage of tooth decay during a regular checkup. Also, if your filling has become loose or worn out, your dentist will be able to suggest you get a re-restoration done.
- Get a round of professional cleaning done every six months or once a year.
Over to you
The sensitivity of a single tooth is a serious issue because we have only one set of permanent teeth. If we lose even a single tooth, it is a permanent loss.
And no implant or bridge is as strong as our natural teeth. Let us strive to save the thirty-two which we already have.