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If your teeth hurt when you bite into hot and cold foods, you may have tooth sensitivity. The American Dental Association estimates that approximately 40 million people in the United States deal with mild to chronic tooth sensitivity.

What causes tooth sensitivity?
Many things can cause tooth sensitivity, but some of the common causes include cavities, older fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel, and exposed tooth roots. Regardless of the cause, if tooth sensitivity is an issue, it should be discussed with a dentist to prevent future problems and decay.

What are some symptoms of tooth sensitivity?
Symptoms may display themselves differently from case-to-case, but some common symptoms of tooth sensitivity include pain and discomfort in the mouth that occurs when teeth are exposed to hot and cold foods. Other symptoms may include discomfort with the breathing-in of cold air, drinking ice cold beverages, or putting pressure on teeth.

How is it treated?
There are a variety of treatment options available. One of the cheapest and equally effective treatments is simple desensitizing toothpaste. It contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. While this doesn’t get rid of the underlying problem, it helps keep symptoms at bay until further direction is received from the primary care physician or dentist.

What happens if I don’t treat my sensitive teeth?
It depends on the cause of your sensitivity. If your sensitivity encompasses several teeth at the same time, you may be experiencing gum recession, which exposes the roots. If your sensitivity is due to cavities, visit your dentist immediately – preventative treatment will be less invasive and less expensive than fixing a lost tooth after the problem gets worse. Not treating a cavity can lead to infection and jaw pain, ultimately resulting in tooth loss.

Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing problems that may arise from tooth sensitivity. Visit with your dentist to discuss proper treatment based upon your individual situation.