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Tooth Sensitivity and Chewing: A Real Pain in the Mouth

Danny O'Keefe D.D.S. Sep 26, 2016

An illustration of a cross-section of a tooth, showing its nerves and pulpThere’s an old saying that “you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” This adage is particularly applicable to a person’s oral health. For example, most of us take for granted the ability to chew our food without discomfort - until, that is, we no longer can. For millions of Americans who suffer from tooth sensitivity, chewing is a difficult, and even painful, task. Fortunately, modern restorative dentistry makes it possible to return health and function to teeth that are sensitive.

In discussing the issue of tooth sensitivity and chewing during consultations at his Jackson, MS dental practice, Dr. Danny O’Keefe always begins with the possible causes of tooth sensitivity. The two most common causes of tooth sensitivity among adults are enamel erosion and exposed tooth roots due to gum disease. He then performs full oral exams to determine the source of the tooth sensitivity, followed by recommendations for treatment.

If you are experiencing discomfort while chewing due to tooth sensitivity, we urge you to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. O’Keefe by contacting our restorative dentistry practice today.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Your teeth are protected from damage by a number of tissues. The visible portions of your teeth are protected by an extremely strong substance called enamel, while the roots of your teeth are protected by gum and bone tissues. While these protective barriers can last for decades and even full lifetimes with proper oral hygiene and regular trips to the dentist, they can become vulnerable to damage from bacteria and other debris when people do not care for their teeth properly.

When the enamel becomes eroded, the underlying dentin layer of a tooth becomes exposed. This layer has microscopic holes that give bacteria access to the nerves of a tooth, which in turn can lead to increased sensitivity. Likewise, in the latter stages of gum disease - periodontitis - the gums begin to pull away from the teeth, leaving the roots exposed. The roots are never meant to be exposed to the elements in the first place, let alone to the bacteria that will take refuge in the pockets created by the gums pulling away from the teeth. Again, tooth sensitivity will ensue.

This sensitivity may become apparent when a person breathes through his or her mouth or drinks a particularly hot or cold liquid. It will almost certainly manifest itself when he or she exerts pressure on the tooth through chewing.

How Can Tooth Sensitivity Be Treated?

Fortunately, there are numerous restorative dentistry treatments available to treat the underlying causes of tooth sensitivity. For example, custom-crafted dental crowns can be used to conceal teeth with worn enamel, protecting them from further damage and restoring the ability to chew with ease and comfort. A scaling and root planing procedure can be performed on the gums to eradicate gum disease and restore health to the mouth.

Learn More about Tooth Sensitivity and Chewing

To learn more about tooth sensitivity and chewing, please contact the dental practice of Dr. Danny O’Keefe today.

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