Why Are My Teeth Sensitive When I Chew? By Burton Gooch on December 13, 2016

A woman with a toothacheThe team at our Birmingham restorative dentistry practice believes that all sources of pain and discomfort should be explored in greater detail. Sometimes even minor soreness could be the sign of a serious issue.

With that in mind, let's take a moment to consider tooth sensitivity and why you might find it painful to bite and chew.

The Anatomy of a Tooth

To understand why teeth are sensitive when you chew, it helps to understand the basic anatomy of a tooth.

  • The topmost layer of a tooth is comprised of a substance known as enamel. Enamel is one of the hardest substances in the human body.

  • Under the enamel layer is a substance known as dentin, which is porous. The pores in the dentin are known as dentinal tubules.

  • Inside of every tooth is a hollow chamber that contains a substance known as dental pulp. This dental pulp is comprised of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that was essential for the initial formation and maturation of the tooth.

The Reason Tooth Sensitivity Occurs

The primary reason that tooth sensitivity occurs is that the internal structure of a tooth beneath the enamel is somehow exposed. The dentinal tubules become more aware of changes in temperature and pressure, which sends pain and discomfort signals to the dental pulp.

Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Some of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity include the following:

  • Advanced Tooth Decay – When you have serious cavities, the this exposes more of the dentin layer of the tooth.

  • Serious Acidic Erosion – Acidic erosion occurs when a poor pH in your mouth weakens and damages the tooth enamel.

  • Major Dental Injuries – A serious chip, crack, or fracture of your tooth means that pain and discomfort are greatly heightened.

  • Gum Recession – Gum recession means that the gumline peels back from around a tooth. There is less enamel at the gumline, which often lead to greater tooth sensitivity.

  • Poor Fit of Dental Restorations – When a filling, inlay, onlay, or crown does not fit right, it can lead to pain when biting or chewing.

  • Root Canal Infection – A root canal infection occurs when the pulp within the teeth is infected. The pain from a root canal infection can be immense.

  • Poor Dental Alignment – When teeth are improperly aligned, it can put additional pressure on a tooth, making it sore and possibly weakening tooth enamel.

  • Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) – Teeth grinding occurs at night, and involve shifting and clenching of the teeth. The pressure through the night and worn enamel can lead to sensitivity.

  • Teeth Whitening Treatment – When bleaching agents from teeth whitening penetrate the enamel, they can cause temporary sensitivity.

Dealing with Temporary Tooth Sensitivity

For temporary tooth sensitivity caused by teeth whitening, the best option is to avoid hard or crunchy foods for a few days and instead eat foods that are soft and room temperature.

Treatments for Serious Tooth Sensitivity

To treat other kinds of tooth sensitivity, various restorative dentistry, general dentistry, and orthodontic procedures may need to be considered. These can be discussed during a consultation, at which point the exact cause of the dental pain can be diagnosed and explored.

Learn More About Your Dental Care Options

If you would like more information about treating dental pain in various forms, we encourage you to contact our advanced dental care practice today. Our team looks forward to your visit and helping you smile with renewed confidence.

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Gooch Family Dental

Gooch Family Dental

Gooch Family Dental is dedicated to providing convenient, comprehensive dentistry to the community in Birmingham, AL. We take advantage of the latest dental technology to streamline treatment, and deliver fast, beautiful results. Our proud affiliations include:

  • The American Dental Association
  • Academy of General Dentistry
  • Birmingham District Dental Society
  • The Alabama Dental Association

You can learn more about our services, and schedule an appointment today by filling out our online form, or by calling (205) 991-9892.

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"I have never received such individual attention and care, from the moment I walked in the door through the entire cleaning and exam. A completely comfortable and satisfying experience. I look forward to having Dr. Gooch's team take care of my dental health for years to come." Amber L.

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