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How Chewing Can Cause Tooth Sensitivity

February 4, 2017 — by John Meola
Tags: Tooth Sensitivity General Dentistry Restorative Dentistry

A woman with a toothacheToothaches and dental pain can ruin your day. Something as simple as having your favorite meal can become a major ordeal. Numerous patients have come to our Boston practice complaining of major sensitivity and pain while they eat. Treating these issues could mean general dental procedures, while other times advanced oral surgery may be necessary.

Let's take a moment to consider the causes of tooth sensitivity when chewing and what can be done to treat these issues.

The Anatomy of a Tooth

To understand why tooth sensitivity occurs, it's helpful to discuss the anatomy of a tooth.

The portion of the tooth that is above the gumline is known as the crown, while the portion below the gumline is known as the root.

The topmost layer of a tooth's structure is comprised of enamel, which is one of the hardest substances in the human body. Below the enamel is a porous substance known as dentin; the pores in the dentin are known as dentinal tubules. Inside of the tooth is a hollow chamber that contains dental pulp. The dental pulp is comprised of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue that was essential for the initial formation of the tooth.

When the crown or the enamel layer of a tooth is seriously damaged, this makes teeth more sensitive to pressure and hot or cold temperatures. This mean increased issued with pain and tooth sensitivity.

Serious Tooth Decay

Severe tooth decay means that a significant portion of the crown of a tooth and the tooth enamel has been damaged, exposing more of the underlying dentin. This can make chewing even soft foods uncomfortable.

The most common treatment for this issue is to to get dental restorations placed. A filling, an inlay, an onlay, or a crown can rebuild the damaged structure of a tooth.

Major Tooth Injuries

If you have a chipped or cracked tooth, the interior tooth structure is more exposed, which makes biting and chewing potentially painful. Even a relatively small chip or crack can be the cause of serious discomfort.

As with tooth decay, tooth injuries and fractures are best dealt with using dental restorations, such as fillings, inlays, onlays, and crowns.

Problems with Dental Restorations

Sometimes the problem isn't with the tooth per se but rather old or poorly fit dental restorations. These can lead to serious pain given how the restoration placed pressure on the tooth structure.

For these problems, the ideal option for reducing discomfort and pain is to replace the old restoration or restorations to improve the fit.

Poor Dental Alignment

When you bite and chew, your teeth come into contact with one another in different ways. Serious issues with dental alignment can make the mere act of biting and chewing a source of pain. Over time, this can mean major pain and discomfort.

The ideal treatment for this problem is to perform orthodontic treatment. Using braces to adjust the alignment of the teeth can make a major difference when it comes to overall comfort and alignment of a person's bite.

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth grinding refers to the clenching, gnashing, and shifting of the teeth while you sleep. It can lead to serious pain and discomfort of the teeth, gums, and jaw joint, and it can even result in tooth fractures.

To treat teeth grinding, the first step often involves the use of a night guard to prevent direct contact between the upper and lower rows of teeth. Additional treatments may be performed to help address the root cause of the teeth grinding.

Learn More About Your Dental Care Options

For more information about tooth sensitivity and how we can help you have a healthy and beautiful smile, be sure to contact our team of dental care specialists today. Our team looks forward to your visit and discussing these issues in much greater detail.