QUESTION: I have braces, and in the past few weeks, I have noticed that my front, right tooth has become extremely sensitive to cold things. I know that braces can make teeth more sensitive for some people. Is this what is causing the problem for me, or do I have a cavity? I brush my teeth every night and I have never had a cavity before, so I don’t know what is going on.
ANSWER: Some sensitivity can be normal when you have braces, but an extreme amount is not. There are a few different things that may be causing your problem. However, the only way it can be diagnosed is to see a dentist. Some of the issues that may be leading to your cold sensitivity can include:
- Demineralization – This is a situation that occurs when people do not take proper care of their teeth while they have braces. Food that is left on the teeth may turn to acid, which eats into the teeth leading to a weakened area or a cavity. When this happens, your teeth can become very sensitive.
- Gingivitis – Another problem could be gingivitis, which is a condition where the tissue around your teeth becomes inflamed. This should not be ignored because it can lead to serious gum and teeth problems.
- Recession – This is another gum related problem that can lead to tooth sensitivity. Gum recession is when the gums have pulled away from the crown portion of the tooth, often leading to exposure of tooth surfaces that are normally covered (root surfaces). This can be caused from brushing too hard or from a bacterial infection in the gums. When this happens, your teeth or tooth affect can become sensitive to cold.
- Overall Sensitivity – Some people have sensitive teeth because the enamel is thinner. However, since you are just developing the problem and it is only affecting one tooth, this is probably not the issue.
The best way to protect your teeth from this sensitivity is to take proper care of them. Brushing your teeth just once a day is not enough. You will also need to brush at least two times a day, use mouthwash, and floss thoroughly every single day. This is extremely important when you have braces because it is much easier for food to get trapped on the teeth and gums.
If you take proper care of your teeth and you are still experiencing the serious sensitivity in just one tooth, then it is a good idea to make an appointment with your orthodontist. You will need to determine the source of the sensitivity and get it repaired before it causes you more problems.