Many people face the problem of sensitive teeth. Sensitive teeth mean that people may experience pain or discomfort whilst eating or drinking hot or cold items, eating sweet food items or when the teeth are touched. Every tooth has a pulp inside and this may react to these situations, causing pulpal sensitivity. The pulp exists in the center of the tooth and is comprised of blood vessels and nerves.
The pulpal sensitivity of a tooth affects only that particular tooth and causes pain and discomfort only in the specific tooth. There are many causes of pulpal sensitivity; these include infection, dental caries, the application of excessive pressure on the tooth by grinding or clenching, a recent filling or drilling of the tooth, a broken or cracked tooth, etc. Due to these factors, the patient may feel pain or distress when pressure is applied or when the tooth is subjected to extreme temperatures.
Commonly, people suffer pain when they try to drink cold drinks, eat cold foods, or consume ice cream. The incidence of pain due to exposure to hot food items is less common, however, it does exist. Pulpal sensitivity is an indication that the nerve of the tooth is dying and treatment is required immediately.
A tooth becomes more sensitive after a filling has been done. One of the reasons is that the metals in amalgam, which are used for the filling, conducts the cold and anything cold that is eaten reaches the pulp very swiftly.
If the nerve of the tooth is dying or is damaged, and this is causing pulpal sensitivity, then the most appropriate treatment to get rid of the pain and distress is a root canal procedure. With this treatment, the pulp in the tooth is removed and the tooth remains in the mouth. After this treatment the tooth would no longer be connected to the nerves and the nervous system and the patient will not be able to feel any discomfort in the tooth.
The empty space where the pulp was would be filled by a non-reactive material, known as gutta percha. After the treatment, a dental crown would be placed on the tooth to protect it against future cracking. People who have the habit of bruxism, grinding and clenching the teeth, can use night guards to prevent cracking and to save the other teeth from pulpal sensitivity.