An orthodontic patient in our Sioux Falls, SD office asked us this question:
“I have braces, and for the past several weeks, I’ve noticed that one of my upper right molars has become quite sensitive to cold things, such as food, drinks, and even the cold air. I’ve heard that for some people, braces can make teeth more sensitive. Is this what’s causing my sensitivity issues? Maybe I have a cavity? I brush and floss my teeth faithfully every night, and I’ve never had any cavities before, so I’m really concerned about what is going on with my tooth.”
Here’s our answer:
When you have braces, some tooth sensitivity CAN be normal, but an extreme amount is NOT normal. There are several different things that could be causing the problem. The only way it can be diagnosed is to see your general dentist. Some of the issues that may be causing the cold sensitivity are:
Demineralization. Demineralization is a condition that can occur when orthodontic patients don’t take proper care of their teeth while they are wearing their braces. Food that is left on the teeth can turn to acid, which eats into the teeth, leading to a weakened area or even a cavity. When this happens, your teeth can become very sensitive.
Gingivitis. Gingivitis is a condition where the gum tissue around your teeth becomes inflamed. This should not be ignored because it can lead to serious gum and teeth problems.
Recession. Recession is also a gum-related condition that can lead to tooth sensitivity. Gum recession is when the gum tissue has pulled away from the crown portion of the tooth, which often leads to exposure of tooth surfaces (tooth roots) that are normally covered, and therefore protected, by the gum tissue. This can be caused by brushing too hard, or by a bacterial infection in the gums. When this happens, your affected tooth or teeth may become sensitive to cold.
Overall Sensitivity. Some people have sensitive teeth because their tooth enamel is thinner. Since this patient has just developed the problem, and it is only affecting one tooth, this is probably not the cause of their sensitivity.
The best way to protect your teeth from sensitivity is to take proper care of them. Brushing your teeth once a day is not enough. You need to be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, use mouthwash, and floss thoroughly every day. This is very important when you have braces because it is much easier for food to get trapped on the brackets, and therefore, on your teeth and gums.
If you have consulted with your general dentist, practice good oral hygiene daily and are still experiencing serious sensitivity in just one tooth, it is a good idea to make an appointment with Dr. Kevin Horner or Dr. Keri Barrow. We will make very effort to determine the source of the sensitivity and get the issue fixed before it causes you more discomfort and problems.
At Horner Barrow Orthodontics, we are committed to delivering excellent quality orthodontic treatment to each and every patient. To provide a friendly, caring, and pleasant atmosphere that will ensure our patients feel relaxed and confident about placing their orthodontic care in our hands.