There are different culprits for that little zing of pain in a tooth… and different types of pain can mean different things! Here’s a look at some common types of tooth sensitivity, and what they may mean for the health of your mouth.
Sensitivity to cold — this is a common complaint and often indicates tooth decay or root exposure. Both these things can make cold a real pain in the mouth! After a dental treatment, teeth may temporarily be sensitive to cold, but the sensation should subside within a week. If it doesn’t go away (or gets worse), call your dentist for a re-check.
Sensitivity to heat — is often the sign of an infected tooth. If you have been sensitive to cold and suddenly become sensitive to heat instead, the pulp of the tooth may be so decayed that it is nearly dead! A mild sensitivity to heat may indicate irritation instead of infection, but check with your dentist just to be sure.
Sensitivity to sweets/sugar — this is often a sign of a damaged filling. Or a cavity needing repair! Areas on the tooth with worn enamel may also become sensitive to sweets. Only your dentist can tell you which is the culprit.
Sensitivity to air — the most common culprit is an exposed root. When the root of a tooth is covered, air isn’t usually a problem. But when the root is exposed, dehydration or the touch of air can lead to pain. Other causes include: irritation to a tooth by a damaged filling or recent dental work.
Sensitivity to biting/pressure — this can come from a number of things. The tooth may be cracked (especially if the pain only comes when you bite in a certain way). If the whole tooth hurts no matter where you put the pressure, you may have an infection or injury. Recent dental work (fillings) may cause sensitivity to biting, too.