How Tooth Nerve Pain Occurs

Friends talking and drinking

You know the sensation all too well: you snap your eyes shut while your hand rockets to the side of your face. Having eaten or drank something that wreaked havoc on one of your teeth, you learn that the pain doesn’t last long, but it can happen constantly as you go about your day.

Although tooth nerve pain isn't fun, it's something almost everyone has experienced. Whether it's from a cavity or a cracked tooth, aggravating the tooth's nerve is a common path to the pain you feel. Here are some foods and drinks to avoid when suffering from tooth pain, and some insight into how the nerve becomes exposed in the first place.

Tooth Talk

Each tooth is composed of four parts: enamel, dentin, cementum and pulp. Enamel is the strongest substance in the body, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), and its purpose is to protect the tooth's crown. Following this layer is cementum, which protects a tooth's root below the gumline.

Dentin comes next, although it's not as dense as your enamel or cementum. Contained within the dentin are microscopic tubules, all of which connect to the tooth's pulp. The pulp houses a tooth's nerves, so when the dentin has worn away, certain foods and drinks can reach the nerves via the tubules, resulting in tooth sensitivity.

Foods to Avoid

Identifying which foods are the culprits of your pain allows you to focus on what you should consume to mitigate the irritation. The most common types of foods associated with nerve pain are hot and cold, sugary and sweet, and acidic and sour. Remember that drinks fall into these categories, too. Ice water, coffee, and tea hot or iced can all make you wince in pain, as noted by the ADA. Anything with high sugar content, such as desserts, soda and sports drinks, can contribute to enamel erosion as well.

How the Nerve Becomes Exposed

In excess, these foods are the first step to exposing a tooth's nerve. But even foods that are healthy for you can contribute to the problem.

Fruits such as lemons and grapefruit consist of a pH level that weakens the protective enamel around your teeth, just like coffee or candy do. No one suggests you shouldn't eat any of the above items, but as the saying goes, everything in moderation. Take care in knowing certain foods can exacerbate an issue that may be repairable simply with more consistent use of Colgate® Enamel Health® Whitening toothpaste.

As with similar mouth conditions, avoiding tooth nerve pain is possible through good oral care. The foundation for a healthy mouth starts with brushing at least twice a day. Don't forget to floss daily, either. Keep in mind that regular dental checkups are another crucial component. Your dentist serves as a good resource to recognize any budding tooth issues and to reinforce that your oral care efforts are working.

Is Tooth Sensitivity Cramping Your Style?

Tooth sensitivity can make eating and drinking a painful experience. Try one of our sensitivity relief products that, with continued use, can help prevent future occurrences.