When patients complain of sensitivity, pain, and discomfort, we always take this seriously. Pain when biting or chewing may be the sign of a dental problem of some kind that can only be addressed through restorative dentistry treatments or more advanced therapies.
The team at our Forney dental care center would like to take a moment to consider the causes of tooth sensitivity when chewing and discuss some potential options for treatment.
The Anatomy of a Tooth
To understand the causes of tooth sensitivity, it's best to consider the basic anatomy of a tooth. There are three parts involved:
The Enamel Layer – The topmost layer of a tooth is comprised of tooth enamel. It's one of the hardest substances in the entire body.
The Dentin Layer – The underlying layer of a tooth is comprised of a porous material called dentin. The pores in the dentin are known as dentinal tubules.
The Pulp Chamber – Inside of each tooth is a hollow chamber that contains a substance known as dental pulp. The dental pulp is comprised of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue that was essential for the initial formation of the tooth.
Why Pressure Can Lead to Dental Pain
As more of a tooth's underlying structures are exposed, the tooth is more likely to experience sensitivity as a result of this exposure. This is largely due to the dentin layer being porous and more sensitive to sensations of pressure and hot/cold temperature.
There are a number of specific causes of tooth sensitivity when chewing. Let's look at each and mention some treatment options.
Tooth Decay, Fractures, and Acidic Erosion
When tooth enamel is damaged or compromised in some way, it can cause your teeth to be much more sensitive, especially when biting and chewing. Tooth decay and fractures expose more of these interior structures of the tooth. Acidic erosion can similarly wear down the enamel's protective coating over the dentin.
To address these issues, the most common solution is the the use of dental restorations. Fillings, inlays, onlays, and crowns can rebuild tooth structure and improve your ability to bite and chew.
Problems with Your Dental Restorations
Ironically, a bad dental restoration can lead to increased sensitivity when biting and chewing. A crown may be pressing down to hard on the underlying tooth structure, for instance. Or maybe an onlay doesn't fit quite right and leads to increased pressure on the tooth on the opposite dental arch.
When a bad dental restoration leads to tooth sensitivity and pain, your best option for treatment is to have that restoration removed and replaced.
Issues with Tooth Alignment and Crooked Teeth
Proper dental alignment can make all the difference in the world. We're not just talking about smile aesthetics either. When a person's teeth are misaligned, it can lead to poor fit when biting, exerting more pressure on certain teeth or parts of the mouth than others.
The ideal way to improve dental alignment in these cases is to undergo orthodontic treatments. Braces and other orthodontic treatment options can improve dental alignment and relieve excessive pressure on the teeth.
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Teeth grinding can occur as the result of stress, crooked teeth, and the use of certain medications. The condition is typified by the gnashing, clenching, and straining of the teeth while asleep. This can wear down tooth enamel, and make your teeth far more sensitive to pressure in the process.
Teeth grinding can be treated in a variety of ways. One of the most common initial treatments involves the use of a night guard, a custom retainer that helps prevent direct contact between the upper and lower teeth.
Learn More About Treating Tooth Sensitivity
For more information about tooth sensitivity and how it can be alleviated, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Our team looks forward to your visit and discussing these matters in much greater detail.