When Should You Treat a Sensitive Tooth as a Dental Emergency?

20 June 2022
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


Tooth sensitivity is a common dental condition characterised by pain or discomfort in the teeth as a response to stimuli such as heat and cold. Tooth sensitivity occurs for various reasons, some of which amount to a dental emergency. In this case, failure to treat the underlying problem can lead to severe pain and potential tooth loss. Therefore, if you have a sensitive tooth, you should know when to treat it as an emergency. Below are three signs you should see your dentist immediately for a checkup.

Severe pain and swelling

Tooth sensitivity accompanied by a severe toothache and swollen gums signals a dental infection. Dental infection occurs when the enamel gets eroded, exposing the dentine. The dentine is the portion of the tooth that surrounds the dental pulp, or soft tissue. It has small tubes that are sensitive to stimuli. When the dentine gets exposed, hot and cold foods can come into contact with it and cause sensitivity.

Unfortunately, with worn enamel, harmful bacteria access the dentine as well and infect the soft tissue. This causes severe pain and inflammation. If you have a cavity and are experiencing pain and sensitivity, you have a decayed tooth. You need to treat the infection immediately to prevent tooth loss. Untreated dental infections can even spread to the body's organs and affect multiple tissues throughout the body. 

Prolonged sensitivity after a root canal

Have you recently undergone a root canal treatment? This treatment preserves decayed natural teeth by getting rid of the infected tissue and using fillings to cover the cavity. After treatment, it's normal to experience tooth sensitivity for a few days. However, prolonged sensitivity lasting for weeks signals a failed root canal treatment. Root canal failure occurs for the following reasons:

  • Incomplete removal of bacteria in the dental pulp
  • Improper cleaning of the teeth before using dental fillings
  • Re-infection of the decayed tooth

Prolonged sensitivity indicates continued bacterial action inside the treated tooth. Therefore, you need to undergo a second procedure to treat the infection. Don't ignore the sensitivity, as it can lead to an abscess inside the tooth. Visit a reputable dentist to eliminate the risk of treatment failure.

Tender or bleeding gums

Do you have sensitive teeth and tender or bleeding gums? This is a sign of severe gum disease. Gum disease occurs due to bacterial build-up on the teeth. The bacteria attack the gums, causing them to recede and become inflamed. Consequently, gum recession exposes the roots, causing sensitivity to heat, cold and pressure. Severe gum disease can weaken the teeth, causing chewing problems and tooth loss. 

Tooth sensitivity, accompanied by the above issues, signals a serious underlying dental problem. 

Contact an emergency dentist to learn more.