Tooth Pain/Sensitivity

“Lately I’ve had some pain in my back teeth whenever I bite something hard.  Is that normal?”

“I chipped a tooth in a pick-up game with my friends, and now it hurts.  Will that go away?”

“I’ve always loved ice cream, but now I can’t eat it without pain.  What changed and can it be fixed?

You have heard it before; pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.  Pain should never be ignored, and generally speaking, it won’t go away on its own.  When it affects your teeth however, the exact source of the pain can be difficult to pinpoint. Is the pain constant or intermittent?  Does it come and go in response to specific stimuli, like eating hot or cold foods?  What is tooth pain signaling, and what should you do about it?  The only way to know for sure what is causing your tooth pain is to see a periodontist.

By asking detailed questions about what you are feeling and by performing state of the art diagnostic tests, Dr. Cordini can identify the exact source of your pain.  Once that is established, then he will determine the most effective and appropriate remedy.  To the extent possible, he will always implement the most non-invasive solution that will be the most effective treatment.


The most common causes of dental pain are cavities or tooth decay, a bacterial infection that can spread through many parts of the tooth and into the gum tissue, sometimes resulting in gum disease and abscess or impacted tooth.  So while cavities and tooth decay are common, you should not ignore them or delay treatment – they should be evaluated to keep the tooth from dying.  Of course, traumatic damage and gum disease can obviously also result in tooth pain and call for immediate attention.

An abscessed tooth is an infection that can be the result of tooth decay, periodontal disease or a cracked tooth. Any of these issues can allow bacteria to enter the soft tissue of a tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue (the pulp) and can lead to pulp death. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that can build up at the root tip in the jaw bone. Untreated, it can lead to a serious infection in the teeth, jaw bone and surrounding tissues.  Symptoms of an abscess include:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • redness in the gums
  • bad taste in the mouth
  • fever

Various treatments can be effective for an abscessed tooth, depending on the severity of the infection. Some of the treatment methods Dr. Cordini may implement include:

  • antibiotics, to destroy the bacteria causing the infection
  • drainage of the infection
  • cleaning the space between the tooth and the gum if the cause is from gum disease
  • root canal treatment if the abscess is caused by decay or a cracked tooth

You can significantly reduce your risk of developing a tooth abscess by simply following good oral hygiene practices and scheduling routine dental exams. If your teeth become loosened or chipped by a trauma, see your dentist as soon as possible to avoid any further damage or deterioration.

Tooth pain that you experience because of sensitivity to hot, cold, or acidic food or drink can also be caused by decay or fractured teeth, but worn fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel or an exposed root due to receding gums can also be the source of the problem.

Healthy teeth have a layer of enamel that protects the crowns of your teeth—the part you can see above the gum line. Below the gum line a layer called cementum protects the roots, and underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin.  Less dense than enamel and cementum, dentin contains microscopic tubules (small canals). If dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum –or sometimes when gums recede — these tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. The result can be hypersensitivity.

Sensitive teeth can be treated in a variety of ways. Dr. Cordini will recommend the appropriate treatment based on the cause of your sensitivity.  Those might include:

  • A de-sensitizing toothpaste that contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve.  Several applications are usually necessary before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Application of a fluoride gel, an in-office treatment which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
  • Gum graft, a procedure to protect the root and reduce sensitivity by replacing gum tissue that has been lost from the root.

Proper oral hygiene is the most important key to preventing tooth pain not caused by trauma. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity. 

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