Very recently for the past few weeks one of my teeth has grown rather sensitive. Not to cold or hot, but if I scrape it with my fingernail near the gum line it almost feels like touching a nerve. The funny thing is, eating, drinking, brushing and flossing are all painless; its only sensitive to pressure with something hard, like a toothpick or fingernail. I was wondering what this might be.
I see the dentist about 2-3 times a year, and they always tell me my teeth are extraordinarily clean. I’m just very paranoid about my teeth. I hate getting dental work, and I don’t want to find out it requires a painful procedure to get it fixed. Help!
– Brandon from Ontario
It’s important to pay attention whenever a tooth is sensitive for an extended period of time. Even if the cause isn’t serious, the constant irritation of your tooth isn’t good and can lead to nerve damage inside the tooth, requiring root canal treatment. Since your sensitivity is intermittent, it’s not likely to damage the tooth. But still, it’s uncomfortable and I would try to address it.
I’m encouraged to know that your tooth isn’t sensitive to heat or cold or anything other than touching it in this one spot. Teeth can have sensitive spots like this, and usually those spots can be sealed over with something to alleviate the sensitivity. It’s kind of like a tiny filling.
Teeth tend to flex a little bit right where the crown meets the root. A lot of dentists aren’t familiar with this phenomenon, and it was only recently that it was discovered. But the tooth flexes at this spot, and causes tiny particles of tooth structure to break off, sometimes causing a sensitive spot, and sometimes continuing to progress until a significant groove develops. The trouble with treating them is that dentists have a hard time getting fillings to stick in this location – they tend to pop out. The way to get fillings to stick in this position is to use a flexible filling material, like a microfill composite.
So ask your dentist to seal over this sensitive spot, and if there is enough room for a filling, to place a small amount of microfill over the spot, and I believe the sensitivity will go away.
– Dr. Hall
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