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How Tooth Nerve Pain Occurs

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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, dentine, cementum and pulp. The Indian Dental Association suggests that Enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, covering the crown of the tooth.  It is highly mineralised tissue as 96% of it’s content is mineral organic content and water comprising the rest, whereas Cementum covers the root and holds the tooth in place within the jawbone.

Dentin comes next, although it's not as dense as your enamel or cementum. Contained within the dentine are microscopic tubules, all of which connect to the tooth's pulp. The pulp houses a tooth's nerves, so when the dentine 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, fizzy 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 a suitable toothpaste recommended by your dentist.

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 check-ups are another crucial component. Your dentist serves as a good resource to recognise any budding tooth issues and to reinforce that your oral care efforts are working.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.